The Czech Film Fund is the main public financing body for cinema in the Czech Republic. The Fund supports all stages of film production, as well as promotion, distribution and other film-related areas. It also administers production incentives for audio-visual projects made in the Czech Republic. Apart from financing, the fund also includes two divisions for international activities: the Czech Film Center and the Czech Film Commission. The Czech Film Center promotes and markets Czech films and the local film industry worldwide. It collaborates with major international film festivals and co-production platforms and utilizes a global network of partners, seeking opportunities for creative exchange between Czech filmmakers and their international counterparts. The Czech Film Commission promotes the country with its film infrastructure as one of the world’s top destinations for audio-visual production. As a comprehensive resource for filming in the Czech Republic, the commission provides incoming filmmakers with consultation, guidance, and contacts.
Markéta Šantrochová Head of Czech Film Center e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org tel.:+420 724 329 948
Barbora Ligasová Festival Relations-Feature Films e-mail: email@example.com tel.: +420 778 487 863
Jaroslav Kejzlar Editor & Communication e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org tel.: +420 601 326 883
Magda Rajlichová Administration & Production e-mail: email@example.com tel.: +420 774 316 427
Vítězslav Chovanec Festival RelationsDocumentary & Short Films e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org tel.: +420 778 487 864
Dear Friends of Czech film,
will begin this editorial somewhat unconventionally by considering a different cultural sphere: specifically, literature. I don’t know about you, but whenever I read a novel or story, I always imagine how it would look if it were on the big screen. Usually I can, but on occasion I come across a book that I have to say could simply never be made into a film; it would be impossible. One such
book was a naturalistically told story of human cruelty and ruthlessness, as well as childhood innocence
and love. I am thinking of the world-wide bestseller The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosiński, a novel that provoked much controversy on publication and is still regarded with a degree of ambivalence today. And then along comes director and screenwriter Václav Marhoul – and does it. It was clearly a difficult journey, long and full of hardships, like the travails of the main character in the book itself. From acquiring the rights, to financing and development, and casting indisputable talent the likes of Harvey Keitel, Stellan Skarsgård, Julian Sands, and Udo Kier. The reward has been its selection for one of the three most prestigious international film festivals – the Venice IFF, where The Painted Bird will have its world premiere in the main competition. For Czech cinema this is undoubtedly the cultural event of the year, and I am proud that our own Czech Film Fund supported the project. All that is left for me to do now is wish The Painted Bird a successful voyage around the festivals of the world and cinemas packed with audiences in the Czech Republic and beyond. Helena Bezděk Fraňková, Director, Czech Film Fund
VENICE IFF /
VENICE IFF /
Animated SH_T HAPPENS in Orizzonti
Václav Marhoul’s The Painted Bird to compete at Venezia 76 competition
8 IN PRODUCTION /
The Pilot, Petr Zelenka’s contemporary drama in the form of a comedy
LOCARNO FILM FESTIVAL /
Oroslan – interview with Czech coproducer Jordi Niubó
14 IN PRODUCTION /
My Sunny Maad – an animated epos by Michaela Pavlátová
2 CZECH FILM NOW 10 VENICE CLASSICS / EXTASE 19 INTRODUCING / NEGATIV 22 INTERNATIONAL PRODUCTIONS 24 REGIONAL FILM OFFICE
16 25 26 29 32 34
TORONTO IFF / DAUGHTER IN PRODUCTION / SHADOW COUNTRY CREATIVE EUROPE MEDIA INTERVIEW / JANA VLČKOVÁ FUNDING NEWS
Czech Film Now
Charlatan tells a story of an almost forgotten Czech healer and unusual medicine man Jan Mikolášek who cured millions even as he suffered under both Nazi and Communist rule. The film is a Czech-Irish-Polish-Slovak coproduction produced by Šárka Cimbalová (Marlene Film Production), Mike Downey (Film & Music Entertainment), Klaudia Śmieja-Rostworowska (Madants) and Lívia Filusová (Furia Film). Further co-producers are Czech Television and Barrandov Studio.
Short Films Daughter and The Kite Awarded in Annecy At the 43rd Annecy International Animated Film Festival back in June, Daughter, directed by Daria Kashcheeva, was honored with two awards: the Junior Jury Award for a Graduation Film, as well as one of the main prizes of the festival, Cristal for a Graduation Film. Kashcheeva combined puppet animation with drawings in her story of a complicated relationship between a daughter and her father. A historic success for Czech animation in Annecy was completed by Martin Smatana’s The Kite, which received the Young Audience Award. The film premiered earlier this year at the Berlinale and in April it also received the Tricks for Kids Award at the Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film.
Production Support for Eight Czech Featues Eight projects were supported at the latest call for production support, including the historical feature Brothers by Tomáš Mašín (3 Seasons in Hell, 2009), The Nightsiren, the second film by director Tereza Nvotová, who had a successful debut with Filthy in 2017, as well as The Word by Beata Parkanová ( Moments, 2018). Support was also forthcoming for the road-movie I Don’t Like You Anymore by Zdeněk Jiráský ( Flower Buds, 2011) and Nobody Likes Me by the directing duo Petr Kazda and Tomáš Weinreb ( I, Olga Hepnarova, 2016). Also, three big-screen debuts received funding – the psychological drama Waltzing Matylda by Petr Slavík, the somewhat experimental People of Blood by Miroslav Bambušek and the thriller Breaking Edge by Emil Křížek.
© Marlene Film Production
Last but not least, the Czech-German coproduction VR project How Is the Water? directed by Ninja Müller and produced by Michal Lovecký (Go 360) was developed during the workshop of Biennale College Cinema – Virtual Reality and will also have a chance to secure its financing at the Venice Gap-Financing Market.
© MAUR film
Three Czech Projects presented at Venice Gap-Financing Market Agnieszka Holland’s upcoming film Charlatan and the feature-length animation My Sunny Maad directed by Michaela Pavlátová (see page 16) will be looking for partners and co-producers at this year’s Venice Gap-Financing Market.
First-ever Czech Project to Take Part in Cinekid Script LAB Director Tomáš Pavlíček and scriptwriter Lucie Bokšteflová will take part in the six-month workshop with their new project called Don’t Drink Our Blood. The workshop, organized by the Cinekid festival, launches at the Cinekid for Professionals in October in Amsterdam and runs through to the Berlinale 2020. Don’t Drink Our Blood is produced by Tomáš Michálek and Jakub Mahler (MasterFilm) in coproduction with Slovak BFILM.
Taika Waititi’s Jojo Rabbit, Shot in the Czech Republic, to Premiere in Toronto Toronto IFF Special Presentations will premiere Taika Waititi’s anti-war satire Jojo Rabbit, a star-studded new film by the New Zealand director, filmed in the Czech Republic in 2018. Jojo Rabbit features a war story that parodies the Nazis and their fatuous propaganda and Waititi himself clearly had fun playing the character of a childishly naive Hitler. Czech Anglo Productions was responsible for ensuring everything ran smoothly for the crew on location and in the studios in the Czech Republic over the course of the 40 days of shooting. The project was backed by the production incentives program of the Czech Film Fund with EUR 1,370,498.
© Cinémotif Films
It is not the first time Czech TV series screened in Toronto. In 2016, HBO Europe premiered at TIFF series called Wasteland, directed by Ivan Zachariáš as well.
Lost in Paradise
Feature-length Debuts Lost in Paradise and The Pack Shot Over the Summer Fiona Ziegler’s semi-autobiographical road-movie comedy Lost in Paradise, about the clash of two different worlds and two generations of Czech emigrants, is produced by Rajko Jazbec (Cognito Film) on the Swiss side and Kristýna Michálek Květová (Cinémotif Films) on the Czech side. The films should be ready in autumn 2020. Tomáš Polenský’s teenage drama The Pack deals with the subject of bullying in team sports. The main part of the shooting was completed at the end of August. The film, produced by the Czech Julietta Sichel (8Heads Productions) in coproduction with Latvian Ego Media, is scheduled to premiere in winter 2020, with LevelK world sales already on board.
Short Film Playing Will Compete at San Sebastian IFF The film by Lun Sevnik has been selected for the Nest Film Students section and will receive its international premiere at San Sebastian. Playing was first shown in the Future Frames – Generation NEXT of the European Cinema section, co-organized by European Film Promotion at Karlovy Vary IFF earlier this year.
Eurimages Support for Two Czech Films Michaela Pavlátová’s animated feature My Sunny Maad, produced by Petr Oukropec and Kateřina Černá from Negativ Film Productions in coproduction with French Sacrebleu and Slovak BFILM, and the documentary Censor by Peter Kerekes, produced by Ivan Ostrochovský from Punkchart films and made in coproduction with Czech endorfilm and Ukrainian Arthouse Traffic, received support at the latest meeting of the Board of Management of the Eurimages Fund at the end June.
© moloko film
The first two episodes of The Sleepers screened at Karlovy Vary IFF back in July, the whole series will be released in November to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. The cast includes Tatiana Pauhofová, Martin Myšička or Hattie Morahan.
Czech Film Now
© HBO Europe
TV Series The Sleepers to premiere at Toronto IFF The latest series of HBO Europe produced in the Czech Republic will be screened as a North American premiere in the Primetime section. The Sleepers, directed by Ivan Zachariáš, is a sixepisode spy drama taking place in October 1989 just before the fall of iron curtain, when violinist Marie and her husband return to the communist Czechoslovakia after years of exile in hope that things are slowly changing there but it doesn’t take them long to realize that the time hasn’t come yet. After an unexpected twist of events, Marie lies unconscious in a hospital and her husband disappeared without a trace.
A New Shift
Docu Talents from the East in Sarajevo Features Two Czech Projects Two upcoming Czech documentaries were presented to an audience of film professionals at the Sarajevo Film Festival as part of Docu Talents from the East, organized by the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival: FREM, directed by Viera Čákanyová and produced by Nina Numankadić (Hypermarket Film), and A New Shift directed by Jindřich Andrš and produced by Miloš Lochman and Augustina Micková (moloko film).
VENICE IFF VENEZIA 76
With Václav Marhoul’s ambitious and long awaited project The Painted Bird, Czech fiction film is returning to the Venice Film Festival competition after 25 years.
ased on the acclaimed Jerzy Kosiński novel, The Painted Bird tells the story of The Boy, entrusted by his persecuted parents to an elderly foster mother. The old woman soon dies and The Boy is on his own, wandering through the country-side, from village to farmhouse. As he struggles for survival, The Boy
suffers through extraordinary brutality meted out by the ignorant, superstitious peasants and he witnesses the terrifying violence of the efficient, ruthless soldiers, both Russian and German. When the war ends, The Boy has been changed, forever.
VENICE IFF VENEZIA 76
Interview with Václav Marhoul The acclaimed Czech director discusses his depiction of the harrowing journey of a young boy through Europe’s darkest hours.
© Silver Screen
Why The Painted Bird? What does Jerzy Kosiński’s book mean to you? Kosiński’snovel affected me very strongly and deeply. As a scriptwriter, director and indeed, equally as a producer, I make my decisions from the heart. I never calculate, never speculate. Immediately after finishing the book, I said to myself: “I have to film this. I have to.” The Painted Bird is not a war film, nor even a Holocaust film. I believe that it is a completely timeless and universal story – of the struggle between darkness and light, good and evil, true faith and organized religion and many other opposites. The story forced me to ask myself many unpleasant questions and to struggle, alone, for the answers. I was left in doubt about the purpose and fate of Homo sapiens as a species and these doubts hurt so much that I had to hang on to anything positive. And this is precisely where the magic lies: only in darkness could I see light. Through confronting evil, I arrived at the unshakeable conviction that good and love must necessarily exist.
© Silver Screen
The book was seen as autobiographical, but then, Kosiński was accused of having invented most of the situations, of writing a work of fiction and imagining horrifying situations that he himself never experienced. Yes, I know. Kosiński during his lifetime made a mistake when he said that it was his personal autobiography. This was not true. But to understand why he did it, it is necessary to know his life, his spirit and his thoughts. For me, whether the book reflects his own experiences or not is completely irrelevant, because the essential element of a work of art is not its biographical truth, but its truthfulness. Is the film different from the book? How long did you work on the screenplay? A film, unlike a novel, is based not on words but on images and no adaption to film can match what been created in the imagination of the reader. The camera is absolutely uncompromising: it offers the viewpoint of the director and no one else. An adaptation can only be successful if the aesthetic concept of the film, the narrative style and the message of the story re-create for the viewer the emotional and intellectual impact the book would have on its readers. I wrote seventeen versions of the screenplay, and this process took three years.
VENICE IFF VENEZIA 76
The book itself is full of cruel and disturbing scenes. How did you work with these often brutal forms of violence? I tried to be measured and objective throughout. I wanted audiences to be able to bear the scenes of brutality. My hope was that the black and white images, the framing, the pacing and the expansive setting of the countryside, would give the viewers the emotional room to seriously reflect on the acts of violence that the boy sees and endures. I avoided shocking, fast effects (that reduce responsibility) as well as any gratuitous lingering (that would implicate the viewer too much). I trust the viewers will never feel trapped or that any of the events portrayed are inevitable.
The Painted Bird is a meditation on evil, but also, the opposite: goodness, empathy, love. In their absence, we inevitably turn to those values. When we do have glimpses of good and love in The Painted Bird, we appreciate their essence and we yearn for more. This is the positive message of the movie—the human longing for good. When The Boy cries: ‘I want to go home!’, we too want to go home, to a safe place of love. Anything else seems absurd.
© Silver Screen
In The Painted Bird it becomes even more painful when such a cruel story affects a small child. Adults have their own pasts, which they are aware of, and at the same time they can imagine a future. But this is not true for a child. The past is an unbelievably shal-
“The Painted Bird is a meditation on evil, but also, the opposite: goodness, empathy, love...” 6
low body of water, where it’s not possible to swim. And the future cannot be imagined at all. A child, basically, can only think a few days ahead. What will happen in a month is unknowable. Several clinical psychologists have concluded that children, paradoxically, accept difficult reality far more easily than adults do. They take it as it is. And of course, this is the quality that helps children survive by allowing them to believe that the terrible things around them are normal. Something like this happens to our main character, The Boy, who is saved but perhaps irrevocably damaged by the very resilience that allowed him to tolerate horror. Still, I am convinced that there is always a way back. You used black-and-white 35 mm film stock. Why? I’m one of those filmmakers who – even despite today’s amazing possibilities of digital filming – is convinced that the negative is basically irreplaceable and that it gives film a kind of magic. The negative is more authentic, especially for something like The Painted Bird, which is in black and white precisely to reinforce the basic narrative line. Filming it in colour would have been a catastrophe. It would have looked entirely unconvincing, fake, commercial. The main role of the child is performed by Petr Kotlár, whom you didn’t find through casting, but by a chance meeting. How did this happen? It happened a few years before filming, in the beautiful medieval Czech town known as Český Krumlov. And there, one fine day, I saw him … And I felt, literally felt, just as I did with the book, that casting this child would
VENICE IFF VENEZIA 76
© Silver Screen
“...Something like this happens to our main character, The Boy, who is saved but perhaps irrevocably damaged by the very resilience that allowed him to tolerate horror...”
be the right decision. He was The Boy. Such a risk … Petr Kotlár, a non-actor, a little boy without any experience in front of a camera How did you prepare Petr for such demanding film work? I did only two things. First, we had camera tests. I had no idea whether he would even be able to go in front of the camera. Perhaps despite his clearly strong, extrovert nature and heart-felt desire to perform, he would just freeze. I called myself a fool, because I had to start shooting in a few months, and I had staked it all on him, intuitively. I didn’t have anyone else in reserve. Then, thank God, I was helped enormously by a very well-known Czech actress who worked with him the entire day. We tested the main emotions and her task was to help him create an atmosphere of fear, sorrow, laughter, tears… It worked out. Petr passed with flying colours. Secondly, I had him take psychological tests. And these too he passed without any trouble. For the entire period of shooting, for each of the 102 filming days in the course of almost two years, there was a chaperone with him who took care of him in between the scenes. There was not a second where he had to sit by himself and wonder what to do. And I was able to guide him as a director through his beloved dog, Dodík. So when, for instance, I needed him to be sad, I’d suggest: “Petr, imagine that Dodík ran away somewhere and you can’t find him.” Acting alongside Petr were many major international stars: Stellan Skarsgård, Harvey Keitel, Udo Kier,
Julian Sands, Barry Pepper... How did you get them to participate, were you ever afraid even to contact them? As I was writing the script, I came to the figure of the German soldier Hans. Immediately, I felt the ideal person for this role would be Stellan. For a while, the notion whirled around inside my head, but then I realised that because the novel was so internationally acclaimed, I really could, without any embarrassment, make inquiries with any actor. And that’s what I did. For some of them, I worked through an intermediary, the agent Tatjana Detlofson, but I contacted Stellan myself. In fact, we had met twenty-six years earlier in Prague, entirely by chance. Since then we hadn’t seen each other and in the meantime, he’d become an international star. I got through to him on the phone, and when I introduced myself, he immediately said, “My God, Václav!” – and then he agreed that I could send him the screenplay, he’d read it and then we’d see. So Stellan was the first who confirmed an interest in acting in the film, and that interest was very important during the negotiations with all the others. Of course, the essential point for all of them was that, first of all, they must like the screenplay. I hear that you developed a particular ritual to celebrate the final take of each key actor’s work on the film? It happened completely by chance, after we finished filming the chapter titled “The Miller”. After the final take, I and the entire crew said goodbye to Udo Kier. Something came to me suddenly, and I grabbed him around the waist, lifted him into the air, and shook him like a sack of potatoes. And then this became our ritual. For every male actor, after the final shot I always picked him up and shook him! What was the most difficult challenge in these nearly eleven years? Understandably, it was the financing, which lasted four years. I contacted dozens and dozens of producers across all of Europe without success. Honestly, there were times when I thought I’d give up, or at least in weaker moments, I flirted with the idea. But deep inside, I knew that I wouldn’t do that. I could not do that. The Painted Bird was my love, that I had to work on it, that everything that I felt and feel about this book had to be on the screen.
VENICE IFF ORIZZONTI
Ironic Truths About the World
The 2-D drawn animated short SH_T HAPPENS by two young filmmakers, Michaela Mihályi and Dávid Štumpf, will receive its world premiere at the prestigious Orizzonti competition of the Venice International Film Festival. by Markéta Šantrochová
n utterly exhausted caretaker and his sexually frustrated wife. A deer that has lost his wife drowning his sorrows in gallons of alcohol. Their mutual despair leads them to absurd events, because... shit happens all the time. The film is inspired by the biblical story of Noah’s Ark, which provides the ideal platform for portraying different characters locked inside their own convoluted relationships, predispositions and conflicts. It offers the perfect metaphor for human society in general. The coexistence of animals with their human caretaker Noah and his wife Eve results in all sorts of absurd situations. Ranging from romantic through tragic, comic to tragicomic… these are the stories and lives of our heroes and their neighbours. The biblical inspiration is quite general. The story takes place in the present-day world, on a housing estate (a prefab apartment block) full of self-centered inhabitants with humdrum needs.
VENICE IFF ORIZZONTI The story is narrated in four chapters, each told from the point of view of one of the three main protagonists, rounded off by a denouement.
The project is a coproduction between the Czech Republic, Slovakia and France, with producer Peter Badač of BFILM.cz behind the project. Peter Badač is also behind another internationally acclaimed animation short, The Kite, which premiered this February as part of the Berlinale Generation KPlus section and has been shortlisted for the Student Film Oscar. Supported by the Czech Film Fund (EUR 22,000), the Slovak Audiovisual Fund, Creative Europe MEDIA, CNC and La Procirep-Angoa, SH_T HAPPENS (previous title The End) was presented to film professionals and potential partners at the Mifa Pitches – Short Films in Annecy in 2018.
“Participation at the MIFA presentation forum is a very prestigious affair, with over 300 projects applying each year. Eight projects from around the globe were presented in the short film section, two of which didn’t have a French producer. As a result, we aroused the interest of French producers who chose to cooperate with us and therefore some 30 per cent of our budget came from French sources: support from CNC and Arte presale rights. At the same time, we collaborated with the French composer Olivier de Palma and sound engineer Francesco Porcellana – two roles that are extremely im-
Co-director Dávid Štumpf says: "For the film’s visuals we used a printmaking machine called a risograph, which has been enjoying a renaissance in the graphic world in recent times. The risograph has given the film a unique colourful intensity that complements the storytelling.“
portant in animated film because they contribute greatly to the overall atmosphere of every film,” producer Peter Badač told us. The film is set to premiere in September 2019. “Right now we are trying to come up with a distribution model that will attract the largest possible audience in cinemas and on digital platforms. But we are in for a long haul as the distribution potential of short films is very limited in the Czech Republic and we hope that the success of our film will help increase the interest of the public as well as the industry in short film production,” adds producer Peter Badač. He points out that the fact that the film will open in Venice, where SH_T HAPPENS will be the only animated short featured, has already garnered interest from potential partners and festival curators, who have invited the filmmakers to their festivals, and he hopes that the film will help raise the profile of Czech cinema and enhance the prestige of Czech animation around the world.
About the directors Dávid Štumpf (1991, Slovakia) gained his BA from VŠMU, the Bratislava Academy of Performing Arts, with the film Cowboyland, selected for festivals in Annecy, Stuttgart and Hiroshima and winning numerous awards at home and internationally. Dávid is now based in Prague where he is completing his master's at FAMU with the film SH_T HAPPENS. He also works as a freelance director and animator. Michaela Mihályi (1991, Slovakia) is currently studying animation at FAMU in Prague, where she now lives. She previously studied animation at Bratislava's VŠMU. She has a particular interest in telling stories using a variety of techniques, from hand-drawn cut-outs to puppet animation. She also works as a freelance animation director and illustrator. She has a dog called Ela and loves beer and coffee in equal measure.
The Digital Restoration
© Fr. Illek, Alex. Paul
Ecstasy by Gustav Machatý, a film whose display of nudity provoked a scandal at the Second Venice Film Festival in 1934, has been selected for the pre-opening event of this year’s IFF in Venice. The screening will mark the world premiere of the film’s digital restoration in 4K, carried out by the Czech National Film Archive with the aim of presenting a Czech version of the film that is as close as possible to that shown at Venice in 1934.
Gustav Machatý’s Ecstasy, made in 1932, is one of the most ambitious Czech films of the 1930s. The picture catapulted its star, the then eighteen-year-old Hedy Kiesler, to global fame. As a result, even
though she subsequently appeared in Hollywood films as Hedy Lamarr, she has always been remembered chiefly for her role in Ecstasy. With the assistance of his cinematographer Jan Stallich, Machatý turned the straightforward story of a torrid love affair between Eva and Adam, a young engineer – though she is newly married to the older Emil – into an extravagant visual celebration of passion filled with symbols and metaphors. The story is told primarily through imagery, relying on a minimum of dialogue, while nearly the entire film is accompanied by music of one of the most in-demand film composers of the period, Giuseppe Becce. The picture was made in Czech, German and French versions, each with a slightly different cast, which opened the doors to film screenings in France, Germany, Great Britain, and the USA as well as a a range of countries across South America, Africa and Asia. The digital restoration by the highly regarded Italian studio L’Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna was made possible by the British Film Institute,
Cinémathèque16, Cinémathèque Suisse, CNC, the Danish Film Institute, Filmarchiv Austria, Gaumont, and the Slovak Film Institute, who loaned film material and contributed to the extensive research needed. A donation from Milada Kučerová and Eduard Kučera funded the digital restoration by the National Film Archive in cooperation with the Karlovy Vary IFF. The international relaunch of Gustav Machatý’s Ecstasy will take place on the eve of the opening of the festival, on 27 August 2019, in the Sala Darsena. A Czech cinema release is scheduled for early 2020.
© Vilém Ströminger
cstasy is one of the films that features in every handbook and overview of the history of cinema, though not necessarily because of its artistic qualities. Rather, it is usually associated with the scandal it provoked at the Venice Film Festival in 1934 that involved, among others, Pope Pius XI and Benito Mussolini. Our main goal, however, was to show the film in its original glory, albeit in digital format, something that required extensive historical research, the tracking down of the best source material for digitisation and, above all, looking for a period-appropriate visual and audial rendition. This has been made possible not only by the expertise of our archivists and restorers but also by close cooperation with several other archives“ says Michal Bregant, director general of the National Film Archive about the film’s restoration.
© Michaela Hermanová
The highly original Czech auteur Petr Zelenka is completing his latest film, The Pilot, a contemporary drama in the form of a comedy exploring the civil side of terrorism and the current reality of social unrest, against the backdrop of a story of friendship. by Martin Kudláč
avel is a chemist at a pharmaceutical company in Tel Aviv. When he returns to the Czech Republic after witnessing a terrorist attack, he catches up with his old friend ‘Plech’, who runs a drone manufacturing company. Having landed a lucrative gig — making a commercial — and having just lost his only cameraman, Plech has decided to leverage his friend’s old hobby of tinkering with RC airplanes (hence the title). Pavel’s newly-discovered skill in aerial acrobatics – flying drones – soon helps him secure more work, some of it adventurous, some dangerous and some
both. He gradually progresses from filming political rallies to working on the campaign of a presidential candidate. However, unbeknownst to people around him, Pavel is leading a double life, clandestinely pursuing justice in a transatlantic case alleging crimes against humanity perpetrated amid the upper echelons of U.S. government.
Haute couture terrorism Though he is an adult, Pavel’s outlook on life remains naive. He has a conventional and strictly black-and-white conception of good and evil, right and wrong, and struggles to deal with the events
unfolding around him because of this simplistic outlook. Pavel fails to grasp the cold, hard fact of life that the world is unfair, exploitative and a harsh place to live in, and that only a thick skin can get one through the day. Driven by his unshakeable idealism, he resorts to extreme measures even though he is temperamentally not disposed to violent or compulsive behavior. “The story is about the birth of a terrorist,” says writer-director Petr Zelenka, revealing the gripping plot of his latest film. The Pilot is more
© Michaela Hermanová
© Michaela Hermanová
controversial than his earlier work, given its theme and the events unfolding in the current turbulent political climate. He cites Slavoj Žižek’s notion that violence is an inherent part of society as helping to inspire the film. As the plot develops and shows the protagonist’s mounting frustration reaching the point of radicalization, it reveals more about the times we live in than about the protagonist’s naiveté or arrested development. The era of post-truth reality fueled by outrage and the lack of decency becomes the breeding ground of sky-rocketing social dissatisfaction. Tomáš Baldýnský, a script editor with Czech Television, called The Pilot a story about “desperation and misunderstanding, which jointly engender a desire to take it upon a person to solve the world’s problems.” Pavel becomes a DIY justice fighter. Or a terrorist, depending on one's point of view. According to Zelenka, “Pavel chooses to take a different path—that of the fearless Russian terrorists of the late nineteenth century,” a time of revolutionary radicalism and anarchist movements. When pamphlets and leaflets failed to provoke civil uprisings, the early radicals turned to violence in the form of targeted assassinations in
order to trigger political reform. This tactic came to be known as “propaganda by the deed.” In a similar fashion to the nineteenth century Russian radicals battling state oppression (the film features Siberian rock music on its soundtrack), Zelenka explained he wanted to focus on what he calls called haute couture terrorism, namely violence and destruction for what is deemed to be a good cause.
Psychological action film An award-winning playwright, scriptwriter, producer, and film and television director, Petr Zelenka is one of the most formally innovative of of contemporary Czech filmmakers. He honed his signature auteur poetics through a combination of irony, mystification, absurdity, and seriousness in elaborate narrative structures, such as the quasi-political metatextual dramedy, Lost in Munich. Zelenka’s play-turned-into-TV miniseries, Dabing Street, a sitcom following a hapless crew trying to save a dubbing studio from the verge of bankruptcy, recently received three nominations at the prestigious Monte Carlo Television Festival. Zelenka’s unorthodox adaptation of Dostoevsky's celebrated novel The Brothers Karamazov, which he shot as
a theater play staged in a factory, is certainly the most notable item in his filmography. The Pilot also has close links to the venerated Russian novelist, in particular to his novel The Possessed, an allegory on the political and moral nihilism dominating the second half of nineteenth-century Russia. Dostoevsky portrayed characters likely to selfdestruct through their patent idealism and naiveté. The author revealed in A Writer’s Diary that he attempted to depict “those diverse and multifarious motives capable of manipulating the purest of hearts and the most innocent of people to commit monstrous crimes,”1 drawing a parallel with The Pilot’s protagonist, Pavel. Zelenka’s latest film is unlike his previous ones, in that its more classic plotting is untrammeled by their formalist pyrotechnics. The writer-director opted for a linear plot and swapped visual mannerism for an “almost documentarylike” style. He also pointed out that The Pilot had to be shot “professionally, lucidly, and absolutely naturally.” Though the filming presented novel technical challenges, the director said he looked forward to shooting with the assistance of drones. “The filming went better than I expected,” he said, adding that often up to four machines at a time were airborne while shooting. The Czech company
© Michaela Hermanová
responsible for the unmanned aerial vehicles on the set, Jamcopters, had previously worked on the productions of Child 44, The Transporter Refueled, and series The Heavy Water War and The Three Musketeers. Zelenka calls The Pilot “a psychological action film,” although any pigeonholing of it in terms of genre and form remains elusive and misleading. As in Lost in Munich, his previous film, The Pilot treats the central topic in a lighthearted way, deploying comedy. The topical and sophisticated script brims with one-liners, zingers and witticisms, and many have proved popular with audiences beyond the cinema screen, as was the case with Zelenka’s previous scripts. Despite the seemingly straightforward story, the plotline is carefully crafted to address several issues ultimately transcending the theme of destructive violence to deal with the complicated world of today. Moreover, a host of supporting characters provide differing perspectives on the realities of capitalist democracy and offer distinctive personal interpretations of the world. For instance, the protagonist’s friend Plech moonlights as a rapper to give vent to his increasing anxiety and
frustration. Capitalism rubs shoulders with charity in the character of Pavel’s sister, a different type of crusader for social justice. An anarchist legend also makes a brief appearance. “Pavel meets different people and each one of them has their recipe for life, from total isolation to telling the story of the world through money. Clearly, none of these recipes actually works, so the film is not so much about a crisis of the system as about the question of ’how should one live?�,” acknowledges Zelenka.
Audience-driven drama in comedy’s clothing The main producer of The Pilot is the writer-director himself with his own production company, 0,7 km films, which he co-founded in 2014 with his friend, the producer Martin Sehnal. The Pilot is the company’s inaugural project. The film is co-produced by the Slovak producer Ivan Ostrochovský of Punkchart Films and the Slovenian outfit Fabula, both countries having previously collaborated on Zelenka’s earlier works. “The project has the potential to appeal to a wide audience, both at home and abroad, and to be successful on the international film festival circuit,” said Ostrochovský. This was a sentiment shared by the board of Czech Film Fund
which supported the project, while the Prague Film Fund and the South Moravian Film Fund also contributed to the project’s funding. The central character of the terrorist in the making is portrayed by Kryštof Hádek, star of the award-winning social dramedy, The Snake Brothers by Jan Prušinovský. Pavel’s friend Plech is played by the former teenage heartthrob Jiří Mádl, who has also managed to carve himself a distinctive film-making career. The cast and crew spent a day in Tel Aviv shooting the opening scene and 28 days in the Czech Republic for the rest of the movie. The Pilot was in the editing room until August while color grading and mixing are scheduled to take place by December. The film is expected to hit domestic screens by February 6, 2020. While putting the finishing touches to The Pilot, Petr Zelenka is already busy thinking about his next project. All indications point to it being a TV series with Zelenka’s signature ironical twist, about “a man who will become a hero of an ecological movement against his will.”
Dostoevsky, F.: A Writer’s Diary, p.67.
LOCARNO FILM FESTIVAL CINEASTI DEL PRESENTE
A Stranger Brought Back To Life Through Stories The Locarno Film Festival presents the world premiere of Oroslan, the first fiction film by Slovenian director Matjaž Ivanišin. The film is a coproduction between Slovenian company Staragara and Czech producer i/o post and was supported by the Czech Film Fund in a minority coproduction scheme with EUR 30.769. by Markéta Šantrochová
An interview with Jordi Niubó, Czech coproducer of Oroslan an art house project that focuses on memories of a recently deceased man who used to live in a remote village in Hungary inhabited by a Slovenian minority. And it repaid the support, having been selected for Locarno FF’s Concorso Cineasti del presente!
Are you planning any further cooperation with the Slovenian producer? We hope to work together on many projects in the future! I believe this is the beginning of a long and exciting journey. We are currently developing a project with director Zdeněk Jiráský, I Don't Like You Anymore, which is most likely to be our next collaboration.
How did you come to embark on the project? I had known producer Miha Černec from Staragara for a few years and have always wanted to do a project with him; it's a “chemistry” thing. After seeing Matjaž Ivanišin’s great documentaries Karpotrotter and Playing Men, I was delighted to be able to work with him on his first fiction film, Oroslan.
What was your contribution to the project? We did the complete visual post of the film including the 16mm scan, color grading, credits, mastering and deliveries. How did the Czech financing of the project come about? I am really grateful to the Czech Film Fund for supporting a foreign debut,
Your company was established as a postproduction studio, is that right? Four of us co-funded the studio: two directors (Jaromír Pesr and I), and DOP (Michal Černý) and an editor (Michal Lánský), who left us early on to concentrate solely on editing. From the very beginning we aimed to produce our own projects, but we were overwhelmed by the demand for postproduction work from other filmmakers and we also had to develop technologically to be able to deliver the best results. That's why we had to put our original professions on hold and focus on the new tasks.
LOCARNO FILM FESTIVAL CINEASTI DEL PRESENTE
On all the films we worked on at that time, until the cinemas in the Czech Republic underwent extensive digitization, we did the visual post including film recording (digital transfer to film). Incidentally, we still do film recording, one of a few studios in Europe (the last being Jan Švankmajer’s feature, Insect). We love emulsion, so we also scan 35mm and 16mm film but at the same time we have confidence in digital. We were the first to introduce digital RED cameras in the Czech Republic at a time very few believed in them. What brought you back to production then? Ownership of these technologies enabled us to step into local projects as minority coproducers. So, coproducing foreign films was a logical next step to becoming a little more self-sufficient. Like going back to our roots and developing our own projects. The first was Like in a Movie by Tomáš Svoboda, a conceptual experiment, a low-budget feature where we proved to ourselves that we could do it.
What projects are you working on right now? This June saw the shooting of Halves, a project directed and produced by Ali Mosaffa, our second coproduction project with Iran, the first being A Very Ordinary Citizen by Majid Barzegar. We have been developing this project for more than 4 years. Apart from I Don't Like You Anymore by Zdeněk Jiráský mentioned earlier (a Czech-Romanian-Slovenian coproduction) we are also developing Night of the Whale, a debut by Kaveh Daneshmand, which will be a coproduction between the Czech Republic, Poland, Canada and Iran. At the same time, we look forward to working with Agnieszka Wasiak of Lava films on a Polish-Italian-French- Czech coproduction Dry Land, directed by Agnieszka Woszczyńska, as well as on I Am an Artist by Albert Serra from Spain. We greatly enjoyed working on his The Story of my Death, which won the Golden Leopard in Locarno in 2013.
Although he may have been taking a risk by working with a newcomer post house, he was satisfied with the result and we later worked with him on two more films, including the first Czech 3D film, Heart Beat. Jan Němec was prepared to take risks until the very end of his life and I admire him for that.
We started in 2005 and our very first feature project was Toyen by the great director Jan Němec.
How do you choose projects f or coproduction? We try to work mainly with people we can trust, people we can respect and who respect us, people with similar values and similar priorities. Looking back I can say that the projects we developed or coproduced as minority coproducers have been solely auteur films. We are filmmakers, not businessmen, so it is quite natural that we prefer to create art over doing business.
Slovenia, Czech Republic 2019 / 72 min Directed by: Matjaž IVANIŠIN Produced by: Staragara (SI), i/o post (CZ) Synopsis: When a man known as Oroslan dies, the news quickly spreads through his little village, causing grief and leading to emotional outbursts. Later on, actions turn into words and words turn into stories. In order to overcome sorrow and restore the natural flow of life, the villagers start sharing their memories of Oroslan, re-creating his image through their stories. Director’s Statement "One winter, almost twenty years ago, a man died in a small village. I did not know him; I had never met or seen him. Many years later, I read about his death and a number of stories about his life. I thus carry within me an image of a complete stranger which, in my mind’s eye, merged with the image of a member of my own family. That was the starting point for Oroslan, stories brought to life by members of the Slovenian minority in Hungary," said the director about his film.
IN PRODUCTION MY SUNNY MAAD
Czech Animation for Grown-Up Audiences Thanks to the Czech Republic’s rich tradition of animated bedtime stories on TV, animated film here tends to be associated with child audiences. That is now changing, though, and not only in short films (such as, for example, SH_T HAPPENS, see more on page 8). Acclaimed director Michaela Pavlátová is currently working on a feature-length animated film for adults, My Sunny Maad, produced by Petr Oukropec and Kateřina Černá, of the production company Negativ.
© K. Zahradnickova
by Eliška Děcká
he story of My Sunny Maad is based on the critically well-received and popular book Freshta (2012, Stork Press, UK) by Petra Procházková, a Czech investigative and war reporter with a wealth of personal experience of the realities of Afghanistan and everyday family life there. At the center of her novel Procházková set the partly autobiographical
character of Herra, a foreigner who comes to Afghanistan to live with her beloved husband and his family. This is undoubtedly a highly topical and important theme, likely to garner considerable attention in Europe and beyond. So it is hardly surprising that the original screenplay, adapted from Procházková’s book by Ivan
Arsenjev, has found its way to the screen. However, a variety of production problems, not least among them the impossibility of shooting in contemporary Afghanistan, meant that the production company, which has enjoyed a long and fruitful partnership with Pavlátová, from the feature films Faithless Games (2003) and Night Owls (2008) to animated short Tramvaj (2012, winner of the Annecy festival the same year) began to think in terms of a feature-length animated production.
© K. Zahradnickova
At the time, Negativ had only one feature animation under its belt, the black-and-white animated version of Jaroslav Rudiš’s Alois Nebel (2011, dir. Tomáš Luňák), which was undertaken using the distinctive animation technique of rotoscoping, though Pavlátová had directed a number of acclaimed animated shorts. Taking a sudden leap into a feature-length, 2D-animated, emotional, narrative film for adults seemed like a big step into the unknown. “Well, to begin with, I did lie to the producers a little bit,” Pavlátová recalls, laughing. “I told them I would do the film quickly and, unfortunately, they believed me. But I believed it myself at the time. I was actually lying to myself a little. I thought we would do it in an anarchic, straightforward way,” says the director of the beginnings of the project that now has a budget of EUR 3.4 million and is being co-produced by the French Sacrebleu Production (producer Ron Dyens) and Slovak BFILM (producer Peter Badač), with more than 30 animators from the Czech and Slovak Republics as well as France working on it.
© K. Zahradnickova
© K. Zahradnickova
MY SUNNY MAAD
Much did indeed change between the summer of 2015, when Pavlátová fell in love with Procházková’s book and the Christmas of that year, when she did the first animated tests at home on computer. One of the essential initial changes was to rework the original screenplay so as to better harmonize it with the medium of animation and Pavlátová’s own unique style. The well-received animated shorts she had done in the past (such as Words, Words, Words, which received an Oscar nomination for best animated short in 1993) had always centered on relationships between men and women, their respective roles and the accompanying, inevitable expectations, joys, and misunderstandings. And she wanted to take a similar approach to My Sunny Maad. “I discovered the book at a time when I had been trying for a long time to write a story of my own and wasn’t having any luck with it, so I started looking for inspiration elsewhere,” recalls Pavlátová. “But the screenplay that Negativ had was very different from the book – it was not mosaic-like, or even very personal. I felt it didn't have enough of the main character, Herra, in it. When I read the book, I actually felt as if I was Herra, in Afghanistan, and as if I was living through it all myself. The original screenplay laid more stress on, let’s say, the fortunes of women generally, whereas the most interesting thing to me was Herra’s private life. Basically, I just needed more of Herra in the script.” Clearly, Pavlátová’s debut in feature-length animated film will retain features of the distinctive style that has brought her so much acclaim and respect from foreign audiences and, not least, producers. Petr Oukropec of Negativ readily admits that the director’s reputation was one of the main building blocks for financing the project at the outset. “Michaela’s shorts have won awards at every important animation festival around the globe and she is particularly well-known in France thanks to her previous work with the production company Sacrebleu (which itself enjoys a high reputation). From the production perspective it is also important that My Sunny Maad will be her feature animation debut, which is something that attracts a lot of attention abroad. But with projects of this size that kind of thing is taken as a given. At the end of the day what really matters is simply the quality of the project. And we are already at the stage where we are able to show some impressive versions of
© K. Zahradnickova
MY SUNNY MAAD
© K. Zahradnickova
the animatics [i.e. simplified animated storyboards] that make an emotional impact, which helps a lot when pitching the project, since we can show not only static visuals and the director’s previous works but the actual film itself, to a certain extent, and what the story is really going to look like in the end,” explains Petr Oukropec. The amount of financing secured so far from every corner of Europe bear his words out. The latest is an impressive EUR 340,000 (10% of the total budget) from the Eurimages fund. Before that, My Sunny Maad had already obtained EUR 130,000 through the CNC Cinema du Monde, EUR 145,000 from the Slovak Audiovisual Fund, and EUR 160,000 from Czech Television, which also bought the television rights. The most vital support, though, came from the Czech Film Fund, which contributed EUR 61,500 to development and another EUR 730,000 to the production costs of the project.
An interesting aspect of the production’s financing mosaic are the French regional funds Eurometropole de Strasbourg and, in particular, Région Réunion, the small French island in the Indian Ocean that will be playing an important role in the making of My Sunny Maad, since it is home to the French studio Gao Shan which will also be doing the animating (alongside the Bratislava studio Plutoon and the main Czech studio, Alkay). That kind of coordination and effective cooperation between animation teams spread all over the world tends to be one of the greatest challenges for major feature projects, and that goes for My Sunny Maad, too. “It will be essential for Michaela to delegate while at the same time operating on several fronts. And while she is, of course, very hard-working and capable, in her animation work so far she’s been used to shaping every single frame and attending to every detail, which isn’t possible with this volume of work, so we have fights just about every day,” says Petr Oukropec with a laugh. And Pavlátová agrees, offering a witty analogy: “The most important thing for me is to learn to let go of some things, because sometimes it’s really not that big a deal. It’s not good when the director’s always down in the lower floors of the factory, they have to spend as much time as possible up top to see the film as a whole. That was tough at first, but as more and more people are brought in to work on the animation, and we are all learning on the job, I don’t have to, as it were, check on the boiler room but just the second floor. And our building has, let’s say, five stories, and I’ll be able to just stay on the top floors, and it will all be fine.” We should find out how everything went from the boiler room upwards as soon as spring 2021, when the film is scheduled for release.
50 projects, 120+ festival accolades, 25 years in the business, 1 company. by Martin Kudláč
© Negativ Film Productions
Forman vs. Forman
© Negativ Film Productions
he Prague-based production company Negativ and its crew of producers have lately been busy launching their latest works. In the 54th edition of the biggest Czech film gathering, Karlovy Vary IFF, Negativ’s (co) production projects featured in all three competition sections. The anticipated second fiction feature Let There Be Light by established Slovak filmmaker Marko Škop had its world premiere in the main competition, netting the Best Actor Award and a special commendation from the Ecumenical jury. Škop’s latest contemporary socio-psychological drama revolves around the themes of fatherhood, right-wing extremism and clerico-fascism.
The East of the West competition presented the feature debut A Certain Kind of Silence by a rising talent, Michal Hogenauer. Negativ produced this social thriller about manipulation in
an international coproduction with the Netherlands and Latvia. Over the Hills, the latest project by the award-winning documentarist Martin Mareček, a docuroad-movie that tackles the topic of parenthood through the prism of a separated Czech-Russian family, was unveiled in the Documentary Films Competition. In addition, Negativ brought to the spa town of Karlovy Vary a touching portrait of one of the most internationally acclaimed Czech filmmakers, Forman vs. Forman. The documentary premiered in the Cannes Classics sidebar at La Croisette earlier and was shot by the directing tandem of Jakub Hejna and the esteemed Czech documentarist (and Negativ stalwart), Helena Třeštíková. The extraordinary crop of premieres took place symbolically at the time of an important milestone as the company celebrated its 25th anniversary.
A fixture in independent Czech cinema In 1994, student Saša Gedeon completed his graduation film Indian Summer with his FAMU colleagues. Surprisingly enough, they managed to release the film into local theatrical distribution. Audience numbers eventually reached 100,000 and Indian Summer went on to do the film festival circuit. “It was not a calculation; we knew nothing about filmmaking or film production. We simply wanted to make a film and we intuitively believed in the director’s immense talent,” recalls Petr Oukropec, one of the producers behind Indian Summer. Gedeon’s debut marks the beginnings of Negativ and the laying of its foundations even though the company didn’t formally come into existence until November 28, 1995, when it was officially registered by Oukropec and Pavel Strnad, his co-producing
colleague on the student film. “[Founding the company] was a natural continuation of our collaboration on Indian Summer and our need for independence,” adds Oukropec. He noted that in the early days determination, will and love of cinema were the crucial driving forces: “We succumbed to the magic of film, of celluloid and the whole process of making a film”. Indian Summer was made one year after the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia and five years after the Velvet Revolution, at the start of a new chapter in the history of the Czech Republic. After the student film, Oukropec and Strnad reflected on their experience while considering the best way to continue. They looked for inspiration beyond the country’s borders. “Czech cinema was going through an unfettered transformation and producers in the current sense of the word did not exist in this country at that time,” comments the Negativ co-founder on the beginnings of the company and independent Czech cinema. However, their initial sights were set on auteur-driven cinema and a filmmaker with vision. Despite their early success and enthusiasm, the first steps were not easy for the two emerging producers. They started working for Jakub Mejdřický of PP Production during the 90s, producing large-scale cultural and commercial events. At this time, Strnad and Oukropec worked just to earn a living and learn, while films remained a hobby and something “quite risky, as it
was not easy to find financing for films”. In 1999 The Idiot Returns, Saša Gedeon’s second feature film inspired by Dostoevsky’s The Idiot, proved to be the turning point and cinema became the two young producers’ sole focus. Mejdřický left Negativ in 1999 and the founders welcomed new blood in 2000. Kateřina Černá arrived as a seasoned professional who had worked in the industry in Germany and Belgium. Her major focus has been documentary film and she has become the court producer of the critically acclaimed and awardwinning documentarist Helena Třeštíková. Besides working on some 90 documentary projects and over 60 commercials and music videos, Černá has produced Marian, the feature-length directing debut of today's most prolific Czech filmmaker, Petr Vaclav. The producer Milan Kuchynka was another newcomer bolstering the Negativ team. As a student at FAMU he had served as executive producer on the historical drama Želary, nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 2004 and on Jan Hřebejk’s dramedies Pupendo and Up and Down. His first project with Negativ was Marek Najbrt’s film Champions (2004) and the company has worked with the director ever since. Kuchynka is drawn to the development of new formats and he has been delivering content for VoD platforms, in particular the popular domestic satirical web series The Office Blaník (from which there has already been a spin-off feature-length film with a commercial
© Negativ Film Productions
Over the Hills
© Negativ Film Productions
Let There Be Light
© Negativ Film Productions
release). Last year Kuchynka began working on an online television project backed by a Czech e-commerce giant. Černá and Kuchynka rose to the position of partners in the company in 2016. Growing from humble beginnings, Negativ has evolved into the leading producer of domestic independent cinema.
Fostering creative partnerships With a quartet of producers at the heart of the company, a particular project is usually taken on by a team of two. “One producer is the main lead on a project, with the other complementing him or her,” says Oukropec, adding that each of the four comes with their own projects, seeking their colleagues' support for them. Černá continues to work mainly on documentaries although she does occasionally handle fiction projects, for example, the historical sports drama Fair Play. Besides web series, Kuchynka has worked on a project by one of the most inventive domestic directors Petr Zelenka, as well as on documentaries, including Peter Kerekes’s celebrated and critically acclaimed food-mentary Cooking History. While the founders Oukropec and Strnad have not wavered in their loyalty to the directors they worked with at the beginning, each of them also follows their own trajectory and slate of projects. In addition to his producing duties, Pavel Strnad is the company’s financial manager and Petr Oukropec
has carved a second career as a director in his own right focusing on stories for the young adult audience – Blue Tiger (produced by Strnad, Kuchynka and the director himself) and In Your Dreams! (with Strnad and Oukropec producing). Animated projects continue to be the company’s collective and most challenging enterprise. Oukropec cites the rotoscopic World War II graphicnovel adaptation Alois Nebel as the most difficult project they have worked on. The film won the European Film Award for a best animated feature in 2012. Negativ is currently bracing for the encore as they begin work on Michaela Pavlátová’s animated feature-length project My Sunny Maad. “We are guided by our own tastes,” replies Oukropec when asked what might be their key to picking projects for Negativ’s slate. He elaborates: “We are looking for quality texts and stories, ideally with an international production potential”. From the outset the company has fostered lasting and nurturing creative partnerships. Filmmakers such as Třeštíková, Pavlátová, Sláma, Najbrt or Zelenka are among Negativ's regulars. Nevertheless, the producers are always open to new and up-andcoming talents. Michal Hogenauer, Tereza Nvotová or Benjamin Tuček are just some of those on the roster of the company’s rising talents. In fact, Oukropec attributes the company’s brief brush with experimental and avantgarde production (Petr Marek’s Love From Above) to its interest in discovering new filmmakers and new forms.
By Oukropec’s own definition, Negativ’s profile is “quality arthouse”, i.e. films with an audience potential and aimed at existing markets. “The international success and impact of our films are important to us,” adds Negativ’s co-founder. And the company has a cabinet full of awards to fuel and substantiate that aspiration: two European Film Academy Awards for René and Alois Nebel and over 120 accolades collected from all over the festival circuit from Sao Paolo, Venice, San Sebastian, Seville, Montreal, Denver, Annecy and Tribeca.
Full steam ahead After a quarter-century in the business, Negativ shows no signs of wear and tear. On the contrary, the company will meet the upcoming anniversary of their three decades in Czech cinema with a considerably bigger slate. An adaptation of National Street, a popular Czech novel produced by Pavel Strnad in a Czech-German coproduction and directed by an upcoming talent, Štěpán Altrichter, will soon hit domestic cinemas. The timing could not be better, as the story reflects the changes in society 30 years after the Velvet Revolution. In the vein of their recent award-winning Let There Be Light, other promising dramas by Slovak filmmakers are due in 2020, in the form of Negativ’s minority coproduction projects. Slovak producer and director Ivan Ostrochovský will be introducing his expected second feature,
© Negativ Film Productions
In Your Dreams!
© Negativ Film Productions
A Certain Kind of Silence
© Negativ Film Productions
the black and white historical drama The Disciple which focuses on Pacem im Terris, a group of clerics who willingly collaborated with the Communist regime. Power, another sophomore fiction feature by a producer-turneddirector, Mátyás Prikler, will follow suit. With this story laying bare the machinery of political power in contemporary democracies, Negativ has taken on yet another socially-relevant drama. Christian Schwochow’s latest drama Je Suis Karl presented at the Berlinale Co-Production Market earlier this year is another Negativ project in the making for 2020. Despite being busy producing, Petr Oukropec has managed to develop his third feature project, Martin and the Forest Secret, an adventure film for younger audiences. In addition to projects scheduled for completion in the next two years, Negativ has three projects in development. These include Bohdan Sláma’s The Limits of Compassion (Hranice soucitu), a film that aims to investigate prejudice and racism in Czech society. Established Czech filmmaker Alice Nellis is preparing an adaptation of the award-winning historical novel The Expulsion of Gerta Schnirch, which highlights Czech and German guilt immediately after the war and the lives of Czech Germans on the fringes of society. And last but not least, 1938, directed by another Negativ regular, Marek Najbrt, will shed light on Czech history in the Sudetenland region in what the board of the Czech Film Fund called “a significant mainstream history film”.
FILM COMMISSION INTERNATIONAL PRODUCTIONS
Want To Shoot a Medieval Kingdom?
The Czech Republic Is Your Country
Twilight; a candlelit medieval hall hung with tapestries, three thrones at its head. In the middle, between richly laid tables, actors and extras in medieval costume await their cue as shooting for the finale of the seven-part Netflix Original series The Letter for the King gets underway in the Prague-Zličín studio.
© Stredoceska centrala cestovniho ruchu
the World, Legend) to helm the project’s development and production.
et across three fictitious medieval kingdoms, the story follows a teenage squire, Tiuri, who answers a call for help that will launch him on an epic and dangerous mission to deliver a secret letter to the king on which the fate of the world depends.
The first season of The Letter for the King was shot in the Czech Republic over 14 weeks, between February 25 and May 31, 2019, following a six-week shoot in New Zealand last year.
“We chose the Czech Republic mainly for creative and production reasons – incentives didn’t play such a role this time. Your locations, especially medieval castles, were truly made for our story. And you have good studios, great set construction crews and excellent production services,” explains Paul Trijbits. During filming in the Czech Republic, the crew worked on location at the castles of Pernštejn, Bouzov, Křivoklát and Kost, and also in the forests and meadows of Central Bohemia. Interiors were filmed on the stages of the Bouzov
Television rights were purchased by the UK-based production company FilmWave and executive producer Paul Trijbits (Sing Street, Saving Mr Banks, Fish Tank), who partnered with showrunner, executive producer and writer Will Davies (How To Train Your Dragon, Puss in Boots) and series producer Chris Clark (All the Money in
© NPU Bouzov – Zuzana Sulcova
The new Netflix family series The Letter for the King is based on the 1962 adventure fantasy novel of the same name by Dutch writer Tonke Dragt, and is the first Dutch book adaptation for Netflix.
© Michal Dedic
former Siemens halls in Prague – Zličín, which in recent years has often served as a studio space for filmmakers. From the start of the year through the end of June, the spacious site was also home to the production’s office and base.
“Half of the shooting took place in the studio, where we eventually built twelve different sets. In addition to the ceremonial hall to film the final scenes, the sets included, for example, an ancient chapel and a life-size ship,” said Silvie Michajlova of the company Film Kolektiv, which together with Unit+Sofa provided production services in the Czech Republic. “We’ve also made hundreds of props, costumes, riding harnesses and historical weapons in the Czech Republic. This work involved local bag makers, saddlers, tailors, glassmakers, metalworkers, carpenters, patiners, locksmiths, and many other specialized professions. The
© Jan Brettschneider
spend in the Czech Republic totaled about 300 million crowns,” Michajlova added. Approximately 150 local filmmakers in the Czech Republic worked on the production for a total of 85 shooting days: 70 days for the main crew and 15 for the second unit. “Including set construction and other work, however, up to 300 local people worked on and around the set. Foreign filmmakers, who were all heads of departments, on the other hand, numbered only 20, and deputizing for them in key positions were Czech filmmakers, for example supervising art director Jan Hák, costume supervisor Stáňa Šlosserová, and make-up supervisor Lukáš Vlček. Also, the whole stunt team and equestrian crew were Czech – from the renowned company Filmka, who had already been with them in New Zealand,” said Michajlova. The international crew was headed by directors Felix Thompson, Alex Holmes and Charles Martin. The cast included Amir Wilson as the lead Tiuri (The Secret Garden), Ruby Serkis (National Treasure), Thaddea Graham (Curfew), Islam Bouakkaz, Jack Barton, Jonah Lees (Tale of Tales), and Nathanael Saleh (Mary Poppins Returns).
“At this point, we’re already developing the series’ next season. And if that is confirmed we want to return to the Czech Republic. We have had great front-line shooting experience here, and it makes no sense to start the whole ‘circus’ anywhere else, when it worked so well here, both creatively and in terms of the production facilities and services,” points out Paul Trijbits, adding with a smile: “Next season, we have to shoot at the amazing Lipnice castle. I know it from location scouting and it’s my favourite castle in your country!”
© Moravian-Silesian Film Office
REGIONAL FILM OFFICES
The Moravian-Silesian Region
Attracts Attention I
n early 2019, Genz (Good People, Borgen, Terribly Happy) filmed the crime series DNA in the region’s capital city Ostrava with support from the local film office. “We helped identify locations and organized several rounds of location scouting in December 2018 and January 2019, as well as the final technical scout in February,” says Hana Vítková of the Moravian-Silesian Film Office, the region’s primary contact for filmmakers. The Moravian-Silesian Region is known mainly for its industrial landscape – the remains of the mining and metallurgical industry, workers’ settlements from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and the 1950s social realist architectural style known as ‘Sorela’, seen in neighborhoods built for laborers. “In terms of scope and scale of conservation, such locations are rare – their genius loci is unmistakable and can still be felt today, even when they no longer serve their original purposes,” says Vítková, adding that the region is not only a hub for heavy industry, but also home to the picturesque landscapes of the Beskydy and Jeseníky Mountains, the
charming small towns in their foothills, and historical chateaux and castles. In 2011, Vítková helped establish the first regional film office in the Czech Republic in Ostrava. “Now we’re part of the Moravian-Silesian Tourism and can serve the entire region. With the destination agency behind us, we are constantly expanding our regional knowledge, our local supplier network, and our location database. At present, the regional government is finalizing a grant scheme to support filming in the region. By the end of the summer, we should be able to announce the first call for applications with a budget of approximately EUR 100,000,” says Vítková. With the grant program, the region hopes to motivate more filmmakers to come and shoot in the region. “Ostrava is quite far from the center of audiovisual production in Prague, about 370 km, and unfortunately this distance often trumps our interesting locations,” says Vítková. And what does the Moravian-Silesian Film Office currently have in store? “The Beskydy Mountains host the filming for
© Moravian-Silesian Film Office
“Visually very authentic, rough, cool, and poetic”. This is how Danish director Henrik Ruben Genz describes the atmosphere of this fascinating region located in the east of the Czech Republic, on the border of Slovakia and Poland.
the Czech fairy tale Největší dar (The Greatest Gift). One of the most interesting tasks was to find an unusual location – a mature, majestic oak tree, which we did with the help of the regional environmental office. Since the beginning of the year we’ve already had several location scoutings for the feature film debut of Martin Kuba, a recent FAMU graduate in directing. The shoot is scheduled to start next year and is expected to be filmed largely in our region. In late September, we’re organizing a location tour for the Ostrava Camera Oko Film Festival to show those of the Festival's guests who are filmmakers some interesting locations in our region that are off the beaten track,” says Vítková.
TORONTO IFF SHORT CUTS
The Animated Short Daughter Daughter is a compelling, original and highly personal film depicting a fatherdaughter relationship and the limits of mutual understanding. The film by Daria Kashcheeva, an animation student at Prague’s FAMU, has been selected for Short Cuts at Toronto IFF and is one of the three finalists for 2019 Student Academy Awards in international animation section. strives to arouse emotions, paper and paint are the right choice.
aughter is a story of a girl who finds a dead bird and wants to share her pain with her father, hoping to find solace in his embrace. The father is preoccupied with his own worries: he is cooking lunch and pays no attention to his daughter’s state of mind and desires. The girl takes her father’s behaviour for rejection, cocooning herself in her inner world filled with a yearning for her father‘s love. From then on she grows increasingly distant from him and as an adult she cannot deal with any display of emotions from him. The guilt-ridden father tries to find a way of getting through to his daughter and rebuilding their shattered relationship. Only in hospital, when her father is dying, does the daughter understand that he has always loved her, in a final embrace of mutual forgiveness.
"I'd had the idea for the animated drama Daughter in my head for three years. I was searching for answers to why I am the way I am. And I discovered that parents sometimes can’t express their love for their child, even though they feel it within.
Sometimes there is estrangement. During childhood there are times when a child may feel something without being able to understand and express it, and all she needs is a bit of attention or simply a hug. But parents often lack the time, are not in the mood, or fail to realise the importance of their child’s feelings and don’t pay at the moment enough attention, treating their child’s behaviour as just a whim. These moments may be seared into the child’s memory, forming scars that shape her behaviour for life, and as adults, such children won’t be able to show their feelings not just with their parents, but generally, in their contacts with other people. Of all the animation techniques utilized, the one I found most intriguing was stop-motion animation. And because my subject consisted of a straightforward story, I decided to make a puppet film. Naturally, a question came up concerning the materials I should use to make my puppets. I felt the nearest thing to human skin was paper. I was sure I was on the right path, as you can paint on paper. I felt that for a film that
I set about studying closely the camera movement in my favourite features by the Dardenne brothers, Lars von Trier, and in all the Dogma films. I studied their films frame by frame, and during this analysis I noticed that to show feelings you have to give your character enough time to enable them to live through the feeling, to stop and think during the shot. It is important to express duration, to make the viewer to have a sense of the passing of time. While working on this film I have learnt a great deal about myself and it has brought me much consolation. Now I can only hope that my own feelings will strike a chord with the audience.
I am a film buff and often attend film festivals. I have always particularly admired the work of the camera operator, the movement of the camera, working with light and focal depth. And the idea came to me: what if I used a hand-held camera in my animated movie? It sounded crazy at first, but I found this thought exciting and felt that dramatically it would work perfectly!
Director Daria Kashcheeva
IN PRODUCTION SHADOW COUNTRY
War and Vengeance
© Pavel Vácha
in a Frontier Hamlet
The new film by leading Czech director Bohdan Sláma, Shadow Country, tells the tale of villagers on the Czech-German border living under the pressure of the epochal and cruel events of the 20th century. by Pavel Sladký
he recently completed Shadow Country, with an original screenplay by Ivan Arsenjev, is set in Vitorazsko, part of South Bohemia's Sudeten region bordering on Austria. The film’s plot is set between the 1930s and the 1950s, from the rise of
Nazism and Hitler’s occupation of Czechoslovakia, and the postwar displacement of the German-speaking population of the restored republic amid the beginnings of communist totalitarianism. Director Bohdan Sláma is internationally known and widely
© Pavel Vácha
Director Bohdan Sláma (in the middle) with his crew
acclaimed for contemporary dramas such as Wild Bees (main prize at the Rotterdam IFF), Something Like Happiness (Golden Shell at the San Sebastian IFF), Country Teacher (Venice Days), and Ice Mother (screenwriting award at the Tribeca Film Festival). Shadow Country will be his first historical film, and presents a topic he says held him spellbound. “I was, of course, aware of what happened among the German, Czech, and Jewish populations after the rise of Nazism and, later, communism. But I was really shaken to the core by this story of a particular community whose once trifling neighborly conflicts gradually escalated into a vast injustice, vengeance, and indeed genocide. In Shadow Country we recount a story of the loss of sanity and the rise of ideology at the expense of rationality,” says the director.
It will be a powerful film. We can promise you that. The director says it’s the female characters in Shadow Country who
“The period from the end of the war in 1945 to the 1950s has rarely been dealt with in Czech film,” adds Shadow Country producer Jindřich Motýl, of the company Luminarfilm. “There have been few films, even documentaries, about the period. But it was a very dramatic time because of the brutal expulsion of the Germans from our country. Even today, we have not yet come to terms
with it in the Czech Republic. The film, however, does not focus on an interpretation of history and certainly doesn’t go into politics. These are ordinary people who want to survive. And the film is about what happens when their lives are overtaken by major historical events,” says Motýl. “Ivan Arsenjev’s screenplay is very strong on authenticity and the depth of narration about the ordinary people of the village of Schwarzwald. The story shows how evil does its work among people and what happens when it’s not nipped in the bud. And what humility, and hope, consists in. Shadow Country will be a very powerful experience. We can promise you that.”
© Pavel Vácha
manage to keep their sanity. “The women are the main victims of the wartime madness, but in spite – or perhaps because – of it they embody morality and humanity. Shadow Country is thus a celebration of female sensibility and solidarity.” And Sláma says the film’s third powerful motif, alongside the fate of women and the loss of reason and morality, is “the rise of the rabble” that inevitably accompanies historical upheaval and the thirst for revenge: “The post-war retribution against the Germans and the rise of a régime that immediately put people with a yearning for revenge and property front and center – that stood out for me as another key motif in the course of making the film. Shadow Country thus examines the behavior of ordinary people in difficult times of historical upheaval when immediate interests, personal peril, or opportunities for advancement can easily override many people’s long-term value systems. Human integrity is based on an understanding of timeless moral values and is not about intelligence, but wisdom,” says the director of his approach to storytelling.
© Pavel Vácha
The black widow and the man dehumanized by revenge The main character in Shadow Country is Marie (played by Magdaléna Borová), a Czech woman who married a German before the war, so she too faces the threat of post-war vengeance. She returns to the village a “black widow”, as the director puts it, reminding Czechs of their own sins, and ends up being driven away a second time. Playing opposite her is Josef Pachl (portrayed by a Slovak actor of Hungarian origin, Csongor Kassai), a Czech who saw his Jewish wife hauled off to a concentration camp and was himself arrested by the Germans during the war. After the war, his behavior is motivated by a desire for revenge. The main characters are surrounded by the villagers, who have different ways of coping with the historic and ethnic dilemmas. “The film is the portrait of a community. And the visual concept is in line with that. Individual scenes are shot in a single take with the emphasis on getting the maximum cinematic effect and breadth of field that enables the entire community to stand out,” says Sláma. The film includes many complex long shots and was filmed on celluloid and in black and white. In Sláma’s words, the black-and-white stylization reflects the essence of the situation: it is an apt medium formally speaking, and
IN PRODUCTION SHADOW COUNTRY can at the same time take in a lot of references. “The black-and-white image gets to the essence of the scene, it lets the facial expressions stand out, and the range between black and white also involve us in what the film is articulating – the many shades of grey in between black and white, all that lies between unequivocal good and evil.” This was Sláma’s first film in many years to be shot on celluloid, since his studies at FAMU, where he now heads the department of feature film directing, and he calls the experience a beautiful adventure.
Shooting on Shadow Country began in February of 2019 in the part of north Bohemia called the Bohemian Paradise and then moved to the east Bohemian village of Bořice. “We spent a long time looking for the right location and, ironically, ended up finding it where the director himself lives,” say the producers. “It was a coincidence,” adds Bohdan Sláma, pointing out that he was not involved in the project when the village where he lives was chosen. “Above all I wanted to make sure the shoot wouldn’t disrupt relations among neighbors, and at the same time, we involved a lot of the locals in minor roles,” he says of filming on his home turf.
A universal portrait of community “Right from the outset, I had more in mind for Shadow Country than just Czech audiences,” says Bohdan Sláma.
“It would have been an indication that it’s not a good topic for a film if it only had a local impact. A story has to be meaningful to viewers anywhere in the world. Shadow Country is the story of a small community succumbing to enormous changes – a universal story about human beings, not only a medium for us Czechs to come to terms with our own history or heal our traumas.” Producer Jindřich Motýl of Luminarfilm agrees. “In terms of the events we see in the film, we may be speaking to the domestic (Czech and Slovak) audiences, and our close neighbors, Germany and Austria. But the story is universal, and we are sure that it’s a film that will mean something to everyone on this planet,” he adds. The film’s budget is EUR 1.5 million and it was funded by Czech Television as a co-producer, the Czech Film Fund, the Slovak co-producer Filmpark, and the Slovak Audiovisual Fund. Shadow Country is expected to be completed by autumn 2019, and audiences will first see it in 2020.
© Pavel Vácha
Producer Motýl believes that while the black-and-white stylization may put off some viewers, it adds to the intensity of the experience. “We filmed on celluloid on a non-audio camera. That allows for top-quality black-and-white results that cannot be achieved with digital technology. Filming in black-and-white was Bohdan Sláma’s idea and now we know that it was certainly the right decision. Just a few minutes into the film you find yourself right in the middle
of the period. And that’s what it’s all about!”
CREATIVE EUROPE MEDIA
A Financial Instrument for the Cultural and Creative Sector
ecause of the difficulties the cultural and creative sector faces in securing financial support, the Creative Europe program has earmarked 181 million EUR for a financial mechanism that provides guarantees for loans in those sectors. The program is expected to guarantee access to loans and other financial products of more than EUR 1 billion. This financial facility is administrated by the European Investment Fund (a member of the European Investment Bank Group) and its aim is to strengthen the competitiveness of companies in the cultural and creative sector and their ability to secure financing. The facility supports small and medium-sized businesses operating in the cultural and creative sector whose activities are founded on cultural values or artistic and creative expression. The market orientation of these activities and the legal form of the company undertaking them are broadly defined and may include creation, production, dissemination, and copywriting of products and services constituting cultural, artistic, or other creative means of expression. Chief among the sectors supported are architecture, archives and libraries, arts and crafts, the audio-visual industry (ex. cinematography, television broadcasting, videogames and multimedia), cultural heritage, design, festivals, music, performing arts, publishing, radio, and fine art.
The credit is intended for: – SMEs with a with no more than 250 employees and turnover of less than 1.3 billion CZK (EUR 50 million) or assets of less than 1.1 billion CZK (EUR 43 million) – small public undertakings (SMEs owned by a municipality, regardless of size) For inclusion in the EuroCreative program requires that at least one of the following criteria should be met: – the financing will be used for a cultural or creative project – the predominant activity will be in one of the selected NACE categories (libraries, archives, museums, national monuments, book and newspaper publishers and sellers, photographers, artists, designers, performance artists, operators of cultural facilities, film and TV producers and distributors, film screeners, computer game publishers, sound recordists, music publishers, radio and TV broadcasters) In the previous two years (only one criterion need be met): – the company has been active in the cultural and creative sector (predominant activity) – the company has acquired support for cultural/creative activities or tax breaks in those areas – the company has acquired a specific cultural/creative prize – the company has registered a trademark or secured distribution rights in the cultural/creative sector
The financial intermediary in the Czech Republic is now Komerční banka which is offering a new product - EuroCreative credit.
In order to apply, companies operating in the cultural and creative sectors must contact the appropriate financial intermediary in their country. Financing is currently available in the following countries:
Volume (in EUR mllions)
Czech Republic Denmark
Libra Internet Bank
BELGIUM PMV Start SA
FRANCE Bpifrance IFCIC
Libra Internet Bank
€40.3 m €15 m €10 m €30 m €111.4 m
€25 m €25.5 m
€125 m €9.9 m
© Silver Screen
A Plea For the Crimes
Never To Be Repeated Screenwriter, director, and producer Václav Marhoul spent ten years preparing to make The Painted Bird. One of the most ambitious works of modern Czech cinema, the film received development support from the Creative Europe MEDIA program and a loan backed by the Creative Europe Guarantee Facility. The roughly 6.7-million-euro adaptation of Jerzy Kosiński’s world-famous novel will premiere this autumn. by Vojtěch Rynda
© Silver Screen
he Painted Bird looks at the Second World War through the eyes of a boy wandering through the East European countryside. The book had such an impact on Marhoul that he resolved to make a movie out of it come what may. It took him 22 months to acquire the rights to the novel. After four initial versions of the script, he requested development support from Creative Europe MEDIA and received the full amount, 60,000 EUR. “That was fundamental for the development stage,” says the filmmaker. “I used it for the difficult literary preparations and location scouting in Ukraine (historic Galicia and
CREATIVE EUROPE MEDIA
The producer explains that it is virtually impossible to make a film of European standards without multiple-source financing. “There’s no other way to do it than to put the sources together like a jigsaw puzzle,” he says. “MEDIA provides something, the Czech Film Fund provides something, television, foreign coproducers add some more, you put your own money in, of course, and sometimes find a partner or even a sponsor. But there’s
really no such thing as some enlightened patron who just puts 150 million crowns (EUR 6 million) down on the table and waits to see how it turns out.” The European coproduction stars some foreign celebrities like Stellan Skarsgård, Udo Kier, and Harvey Keitel, as well as, of course, Czech, Polish, German, Ukrainian, and Slovak actors. One of the characters is portrayed by Aleksei Kravchenko, who played the lead role in the celebrated Soviet war film Come and See, which also had a powerful influence on Marhoul. It is more than symbolic that The Painted Bird was midwifed by EU institutions that serve as one of the guarantees against the recurrence of the horrors of the world wars. “The fact that borders within
© Silver Screen
Another thing that was absolutely essential to the project was a loan made possible by the Creative Europe Guarantee Facility – a financial instrument guaranteeing loans for projects in the cultural and creative sector. In the Czech Republic the facility is provided by Komerční banka through its EuroCreativ loan. “I needed another 33 million Czech crowns to finish the shoot,” says Marhoul. “Without that loan, I simply couldn’t have completed The Painted Bird. The loan works like a revolving account: the line of credit is used incrementally and shooting invoices are sent to the bank for checking and paying out.”
© Silver Screen
Volhynia), Poland, and elsewhere. While working on my previous film, Tobruk, I learned that a screenwriter must see the places where the story takes place if he is to absorb the atmosphere.” Ironically enough, Poland provided little inspiration, as financial support from the EU has left the eastern countryside “too clean” and developed for the purposes of a wartime drama. On the other hand, though, it was there that Marhoul realized that in order for The Painted Bird to work, it would have to be shot in black and white.
Europe have been substantially eliminated has helped ease tensions between nations,” says Marhoul. “Europe is a complex network of emotions, with a history of people harming one another. It would be awfully easy to reawaken those old feelings. It's true that the EU may be overly bureaucratic and have other bad features. But when you consider all the pros and cons, the positives clearly prevail.” Marhoul says he would not even mind if the union worked like the federal system in Germany. “I'd have no problem with being a citizen of a United States of Europe,” he says. The director sees a connection between The Painted Bird and other major European films – particularly Michael Haneke’s The White Ribbon and Ida by Pawel Pawlikowski. These share both his world-war theme and the black-andwhite image, but The Painted Bird differs from its more loquacious “fellows” in that in almost three hours it has less than nine minutes of dialogue. Marhoul is aware that his film’s violent scenes will be controversial. However, he believes that audiences will be receptive to the story’s strongly humanistic message. “War, Nazism, or the main character being a Jew – none of these is of the essence,” he explains. “All the violence is just the backdrop. And it reveals a tale of good and evil, along with a plea that nothing of the kind must ever happen again.”
INTERVIEW JANA VLČKOVÁ
Jana Vlčková: © Ondřej Šálek
An Editor’s Merits Can’t Be Judged By a Single Film
The work of the film editor Jana Vlčková (born 1981) can’t be pigeonholed into a single genre. She was awarded a Czech Lion both this year and last for the feature films Winter Flies and Filthy, which screened at a number of foreign festivals, she has frequently collaborated with leading Czech and Slovak documentary filmmakers, and she has even worked on several experimental films. The aspects of editing she most appreciates are minimalism and precision. by Vojtěch Rynda There are some recurring names in your filmography, like Olmo Omerzu, Jan Gebert, Robert Kirchhoff... How did this circle of collaborators come about? Before FAMU, I spent two years at Bratislava's Academy of Performing Arts. It was there that I met the documentary filmmakers Zuzana Piussi and Robert Kirchhoff, who in turn introduced me to others, like Peter Kerekes, and ushered me into the world of Czech documentary filmmaking. Through Peter I met Filip Remunda and Vít Klusák. Martin Mareček and I did some editing together in my second year at FAMU, Martin Dušek was in my class when we started, Olmo Omerzu was one year below us... I work well with filmmakers who adopt an original approach that I am in tune with
and that I find inspiring. And after spending 12 hours a day together in the editing suite we generally end up being close friends.
But Olmo and I try to achieve truthfulness of a similar kind – and I would emphasize the word – through the way we work with actors.
You’ve edited films of all kinds of genres. Which do you prefer most? I don’t like to use the term “genre” where auteur films are concerned. For me they are, above all, original works of art. I would put the categories “fiction” and “documentary” and everything in between into the drawer marked “method”. In the context of Czech and Slovak films of the last 20 years, I love auteur documentaries: when they are well-done, they are the films that come closest to truthfulness. Compared with contemporary feature films, a lot of documentaries also seem to me more compelling and wide-ranging.
In today’s digital era, anyone can shoot and edit a film. Does it hurt your eyes to see these kinds of overproduced videos on YouTube, social networks, and other distribution channels? I’m not on social media very much, but I am aware of the fact that something like a new language is evolving: people have started expressing themselves more visually. Sometimes, when I see a video by some youtuber, I’m fascinated by how naturally they find it to cut non-essential words or silence without even changing the size of the shot. What
INTERVIEW JANA VLČKOVÁ
What was it, then, that shaped your love for film? For example, Lars von Trier's The Idiots, its abrasive naturalism. I always like seeing that kind of thing on screen. And how did your dramaturgical thinking, your approach to storytelling develop? Were there moments when you said, “aha, so you can make a film that way, too”? At first I had no idea what dramaturgy was! And now I’m at a point where I’m freeing myself of classical film storytelling because I don’t think everything has to be done by the book . As D. H. Lawrence said: “all the rules for the construction of novels hold good only for novels that are copies of other novels.” One of the films in the main program of this year’s Karlovy Vary festival was Martin Dušek and Ondřej Provazník’s Old-Timers. What are your memories of the difficult-to-edit edit scene in which one of the two protagonists keeps the occupants of a farmhouse busy while the other is demolishing its façade? There was precious little time for shooting that scene, so we were missing
In Winter Flies you and Olmo Omerzu alternate two narrative lines: a hedged-in interrogation at a police station and the freewheeling travels of the boys in a stolen car. How did you switch between those two modes? The hardest thing for us was deciding when to intercut the police station scene with the trip. The way it was written in the script just didn’t work at all in the editing suite. We had to rethink the way the whole thing was cut to keep the narrative as suspenseful as possible. How does one assess editing, anyway? How is it appreciated? I really don’t know. An editor’s merits can’t be assessed on the basis of a single film: you don’t see the rushes and all the different versions of the edit, you can’t know the director’s interpretation... Maybe it’s only when you see the editor’s work with different directors that you can appreciate their train of thought. On the other hand, I don’t think it’s a good thing if an editor can be recognized by their style. Every film needs to be approached in its own way. A Dogma 95 style might be good for one, a classic style for another, and team editing for yet another... Or something else altogether. Do you have any favorite editors? I like Anders Refn, who edited von Trier’s films Breaking the Waves and Antichrist. And generally speaking, I like minimalism, moderation, and precision. Like this year’s Icelandic drama A White, White Day: it says the absolute minimum, only the very bare essentials that the viewer needs to understand. I get the feeling that Czech films prefer to say everything three times just in case Old-Times
Where do you start if you want to do film editing? It might sound dumb, but it’s love of film. You should be discriminating, be fascinated by the language of film, the language of the director. At least that’s how it was for me. It was only as I was working that I learned to think in terms of how a story should be constructed, to structure ideas, and so on. And I’m still learning and evolving.
a lot of shots. I’m glad the scene worked out in the end, although I’m still not entirely happy with it: there are a couple of things that don't quite add up.
they’re actually doing is kind of animating by themselves with the aim of getting the best in terms of rhythm and emotions. But the more things I have come across in some 12 years of work, the more I see that learning to edit film isn’t easy.
the viewer has fallen asleep. It verges on soap opera. Your filmography also includes experimental films, like Recovering Industry by Andrea Slováková, which was screened at the Jihlava documentary festival in the Fascination experimental section. I’ve worked with Andrea many times. I even edited her student films. The concept behind Recovering Industry is perhaps even too explicit, for example, the growth curve of the engineering industry is conveyed through the brightness of the image. For me it was pleasantly refreshing in that I had to use an entirely different internal “operating system”. I’m glad that films like that force me to demand more of myself intellectually, unlike some others. Are you a proponent of intellectual or of intuitive editing? Do you edit with your head or your heart? It tends to depend on the material. I think that these days I do what I do intuitively, maybe in another five years I’ll be aware of what I am doing: I’ll do things the same way but I’ll know why. It’s a learning process. I think everything in the process of editing of a film should have its own internal rationale and logic. But sometimes I’m surprised to find that I know what a certain sequence should look like and it’s only the form that reveals the rationale to me. You've mentioned five years – what about next year? I’m working with Robo Kirchhoff on his film about Alexander Dubček, Olmo is preparing a short and a feature film, and other documentaries are taking shape... I’ve got plenty in the pipeline for next year.
Is the Film Industry
an Industry Of the Future?
s usual, the Czech Film Fund was a partner of the industry events at this year’s 54th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. The industry section, which is intended for foreign and Czech film professionals, opened with a panel discussion focusing on film incentives in the Czech Republic. There is excessive
pressure on production at the moment, not only in this country but all over the word, primarily because of streaming services like Netflix or Amazon. Demand for shooting considerably exceeds supply. Radek Špicar of the Confederation of Industry, Jan Vořechovský of the Czech Ministry of Culture, and producer and director Petr Jákl, as well as Radomír
The discussion panel entitled “The Debut… And Then What?”
© Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary
© Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary
CZECH FILM FUND
Dočekal from the production company Milk and Honey, discussed how best to adapt the whole system of film incentives to the current situation. The idea of film incentives can still elicit a range of reactions, with some considering them a grant and others a disproportionately large portion of the culture budget that involves business more than culture. However, the participants agreed that film incentives work in a completely different way from project grants. They are also advantageous to the state coffers, which see a disproportionately higher return on expenditure, so providing a great investment opportunity for the Czech Republic. Positive effects are also felt in the regions, and the incentives, of course, also help sustain and develop small and medium-sized companies in particular. The projects requesting incentives will be produced one way or another – the Czech Republic should therefore be keen to have them made locally and thus make maximum use of Czech goods and services. The most frequently discussed question – the difference between the size of the
funding news czech film fund
film incentives in the Czech Republic compared with other countries sought after by foreign filmmakers – was addressed by Czech Film Fund director Helena Bezděk Fraňková, who chaired the panel. “Monuments are great, the work of Czech filmmakers is great, but for the 20% difference you can make another film,” she said. Director Petr Jákl confirmed that the size of the incentives that countries offer is one of the decisive factors for producers and filmmakers when making their final decision about where to shoot their film or series. Incentives are rising not only in European countries, but also in various states in the USA and in Central America. In the panelists’ view, the Czech Republic should not only be modernizing traditional industries like the automobile, mechanical engineering, energy and chemical industries, but should also focus on seeking whole new sectors of the economy that could form the new backbone of Czech industry. The film and audiovisual industry could become one of these, alongside, for example, nanotechnology and the IT industries. These form parts of what are known as the creative industries, which are beginning to take an increasing share of national industry overall, and their importance will only grow in the future. Of these, the film and audiovisual
industry is undoubtedly one of the country's most developed and best equipped. There was also discussion of the obstacles hindering the abovementioned points. The examples the panelists cited most often were the lack of clear distinctions and definitions of what the creative industries are and the need for better coordination among all the players involved. Only the near future will show whether the Czech Republic will move from investing in assembly plants to supporting higher, added-value market segments.
The second of the big discussion panels that the fund held in the Industry Pool space of the Thermal Hotel dealt with filmmakers’ first and second films. Entitled “The Debut… And Then What?”, the panel benefited from the participation of, among others, director and screenwriter Michal Hogenauer, whose film A Certain Kind of Silence was in competition at the festival, screenwriter and director Johana Ožvold, director Zuzana Kirchnerová, and Julie Žáčková and Dagmar Sedláčková from Girls in Film. A debut is naturally an important milestone in a director’s career, but following up on it is much tougher. On this point all of the speakers were in agreement. What’s more, if the debut is a successful one, then critics', viewers' and other film professionals' expectations of the follow-up are all the greater. These great expectations and associated pressures are not the only obstacle faced by filmmakers with their subsequent films. Another obstacle can be that the director’s first film is generally made with the support of a film school, or at least such support is easier to get. After that, the director is “on his own”, which can result in all kinds of fuss and bother, including a lot more psychological pressure. The fund organized this panel in cooperation with the Girls in Film platform.
Radek Špicar (Confederation of Industry) and Jan Vořechovský (Ministry of Culture CR)
© Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary
Panel Discussion on Film Incentives
© Film Servis Festival Karlovy Vary
Is it hard to follow a successful debut?
Films to Come
FILMS TO COME in development
Films to Come Selected new Czech feature films in development, production, post-production or ready for release. For more information please contact us at email@example.com.
A Sensitive Man
The boy and his father, both dressed up as women, run strangely through a dystopian landscape where people are filled with frustration and fear. In order for the boy to maintain his childhood ideals so far and become a truly sensitive person, he has to stand up to this cruel world of adults, including his own dad.
Full-length documentary gives Czechoslovak architectural overview of the 1958–1989 period and aims to describe the relationship between the public opinion and the specifics of that architectural era. The documentary should help to remove all the prejudice originating from little knowledge of the background. The public and the experts often omit that despite the fact that the investor was the Communist state administration, which provided the budget, however all the expert decisions were made by architecs themselves. And the architects decided not on the base of figures, but majority of the decisions were made based on the modern and inspirational drive to create something dateless.
Viktor and Andrej live in a juvie south of Moscow. Viktor (17) is a chronic escapee, Andrej (14) has recently been brought in by his father. When a chance presents itself, they break out. Kursk – Kharkov – Kiev – Lvov – Bratislava – Prague – Karlovy Vary, two thousand kilometers on old bikes. They both see the world for the first time. Their paths split when Viktor gets arrested by the Ukrainian police and takes a beating for Russia. Andrej gets to the Czech Republic and catches up with his father, only to get rejected. He is detained by the police and sent to the juvie again. Both boys are back, profoundly changed. It comes to light that Viktor incidentally became a father.
Crystal Raiders Rea and her father Val move to a newly colonized planet where they become friends with Andy and his mother Sandra, an environmental activist. At his new job in a waste processing plant, Val notices its manager mishandling toxic waste. The poisonous waste ends up under ground where various species live, unknown to humans, including dinosaur-like Gorgons and crystal-like Crystons who sense that dangerous changes are happening. Based on an idea by the Academy Award winning director Dušan Vukotić.
FICTION original title: Citlivý člověk runtime: 75 min estimated release: 2021 director: Tomáš Klein produced by: Tomáš Michálek – MasterFilm (CZ)
DOCUMENTARY original title: Architektura 58–89 runtime: 100 min estimated release: 2020 director: Jan Zajíček produced by: Karla Stojáková – FILM KOLEKTIV (CZ) in co-production with: Azyl Productions (SK)
FICTION original title: Kola runtime: 90 min estimated release: 2021 director: Jakub Machala produced by: Kateřina Buzková – DARQ Studio (CZ)
ANIMATION original title: Křišťáloví únosci runtime: 90 min estimated release: January 2023 director: Arsen Ostojić produced by: Petr Horák – Alkay Animation Prague (CZ), Arsen Ostojić – Filmosaurus Rex (HR)
FILMS TO COME IN DEVELOPMENT
Jizera Mountains, 1551. 20-year-old knight Henry has the Urbach village in his custody. Suddenly, people start to disappear under suspicious circumstances. Locals suspect the mysterious Wallachian people, who settled in mountains nearby. When a young woman Alma disappears too, Henry decides to find her and rescue her from these demonic people. On the highest mountain, Fichtelberg, always covered with clouds, he discovers a real hell. Dirty laborers dig bones here and crush them to powder. Henry discovers a secret glass factory. Crushed bones are used as an ingredient to produce white glass, similar to porcelain. Long desired Alma is also present here, for sure not voluntarily.
The film is trying to identify causes and consequences of the rapidly increasing rents across Europe. It relates personal stories of people from Lisbon, London, Bucharest, Ostrava to political and economic processes, which play a crucial role in the determination of quality of life.
The relationship between people and bees is one of the best mapped phenomena in human history. In most cultures, the honey bee was considered a sacred animal and enjoyed great respect. Today, due to our irresponsible interventions in nature, it is facing extinction. Together with Honeymen, two amateur beekeepers from Brno, we set out to search for an answer to how to save the bees. However, it soon becomes clear that it is not only the bees that are dying; it is also something in us. Human Beeing is a reflection upon modern humans losing their relationship both to nature and to themselves.
I Don’t Like You Anymore Marek (13) hates his mother’s boyfriend and is constantly shooting and posting videos online. These impress Tereza, “a good family girl”. They start filming risky situations they stage or cause. She suggests running away from home. They stage even rougher videos and pretend Marek kidnapped her. There is no way back after Marek calls Tereza’s mother. They buy train tickets to go as far as possible and end up in Bucharest in a dirty suburb apartment-block neighborhood, stealing food. Halcyon free ride is over, they begin to realize their escape won't last much longer. Marek wants to return home, but Tereza reminds him that he is a wanted kidnapper and if he returns without her, nobody will believe that he hasn't hurt her. An unfortunate accident fulfils her prediction…
The documentary captures life, work and death of the Czech conceptual artist Jan Mančuška who died in 2011 at the age of 39. The winner of the Jindřich Chalupecký Award was considered one of the most respected and successful local artist. He left behind a great deal of work of a significant intensity, which has become relevant in the international context. However, Jan Mančuška passed away earlier than he could become as relevant in his native country as he was relevant in the world.
OTEL PRAGUE Tomas (19), a Ukrainian of Czech origin – the descendant of Czech emigrants still living as an organized minority in Ukraine, still speaking old Czech language – is coming to Prague to reunite with his estranged mother Naďa, whom he hasn’t seen for years. Naďa is a small time crook living in the streets of Prague, trying to fulfil her dream: to own cheap hotel in the city. That’s why she invited her son to come to Prague. In the first plan it’s a story about son/mother relationship, in the second plan, it’s about being an immigrant in a foreign country, even if you speak the language. The film brings up the question: What really makes you a Czech? The language, the roots or something else?
FICTION, ANIMATION original title: Fichtelberg runtime: 90 min estimated release: June 2022 director: Šimon Koudela produced by: Viktor Schwarcz – Cineart TV Prague (CZ) in co-production with: Czech Television (CZ)
DOCUMENTARY original title: Veletrh bydlení runtime: 90 min estimated release: October 2021 director: Apolena Rychlíková produced by: Martin Kohout, Jakub Wagner – GPO platform (CZ)
DOCUMENTARY original title: Human Beeing runtime: 78 min estimated release: February 2021 director: Kristýna Bartošová produced by: Hana Šilarová – Frame Films (CZ) in co-production with: MagicLab (CZ), Bystrouška (CZ), FAMU (CZ)
FICTION original title: Už tě nemám rád runtime: 90 min estimated release: April 2021 director: Zdeněk Jiráský produced by: Jordi Niubo – i/o post (CZ) in co-production with: 4prooffilm (RO), Staragara (SI)
DOCUMENTARY original title: Chybění runtime: 70 min estimated release: 2020 director: Štěpán Pech produced by: Marek Dusil – Mannschaft (CZ)
FICTION original title: OTEL PRAGUE runtime: 100 min estimated release: November 2021 director: Zdeněk Viktora produced by: Zdeněk Viktora – SCREENPLAY BY (CZ) in co-production with: Attack Film (SK), Hildebrandt Film (DE)
FILMS TO COME IN PRODUCTION IN production Presenting history of the 20th century, Comfortable Century looks back at a unique set of apartment interiors in the city of Pilsen. Designed by Adolf Loos, these apartments witnessed both ordinary episodes from their residents‘ private lives and significant milestones of our modern history, having had impact on Adolf Loos himself as well as on global architecture development. Using video mapping technique, freshly recalled memories from temporary shots are getting back to their original places, installed in the apartments here and there.
DOCUMENTARY original title: Pohodlné století runtime: 70 min estimated release: December 2020 director: Jaroslav Kratochvíl produced by: Petr Polák – Studio Petrohrad (CZ)
A documentary about Mikhail Gorbachev, the first and last President of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Gorbachev’s short time in power was marked by the collapse of this empire. He launched the policies of Perestroika and Glasnost. He demolished the Berlin Wall. However, during this time the citizens of the Baltic States had to die for their freedom, the Chernobyl disaster was silenced, and Gorbachev's army violently dispersed the peaceful protesters in Tbilisi. The Soviet empire collapsed under him – and he is condemned by his own people. With this burden of the past the lonely old man is living the last days of his life in an empty house in the suburbs near Moscow.
DOCUMENTARY original title: Gorbačov. Poslední slovo runtime: 90 min estimated release: November 2020 director: Vitalij Mansky produced by: Natalia Manskaya – SIA Vertov (LV) in co-production with: Hypermarket Film (CZ)
The story of Riki, a ten-year-old boy, who dives into a big adventure, takes place in two different worlds: “Yourland” is a fantasy world, a place, where everything is possible and where dreams and crazy ideas come true. The other world is Riki’s real world – cold, grey and shrouded in difficult family problems. Time will show though that all the problems can be solved, if we choose the right path. Heart of a Tower is not just a fantasy full of crazy inventions, giant robots, and magical creatures, it also shows the problems kids nowadays have to face.
ANIMATION original title: Srdce věže runtime: 85 min estimated release: December 2020 director: Peter Budinský produced by: Peter Badač – BFILM.cz (CZ) in co-production with: Stacka (BE)
Drama with elements of absurdity about how doctors and patients in our technologically advanced civilization relearn how to communicate about something as basic as death – that was long ago crowded out.
DOCUMENTARY original title: Jednotka intenzivního života runtime: 80 min estimated release: October 2022 director: Adéla Komrzý produced by: Pavla Janoušková Kubečková – nutprodukce (CZ)
After having built up, managed and lost his underground music club in Prague, the city his father emigrated from in the 1960s, bankrupted Evžen (39) shows up as a surprise guest at home in Switzerland. His initial plan to get a loan and come quickly back to Prague to save his dream will change shortly after his arrival. He has to face his family's life struggles. Apparently, those didn't change much since he left to Prague many years ago.
FICTION original title: Ztraceni v ráji runtime: 100 min estimated release: October 2020 director: Fiona Ziegler cast: Dominique Jahn, Hana Vagnerová, Ivan Pokorný produced by: Rajko Jazbec – Cognito Films (CH), Kristýna Michálek Květová – Cinémotif Films (CZ) in co-production with: FAMU (CZ)
Gorbachev. The Last Word
Heart of a Tower
Intensive Life Unit
Lost in Paradise 39
FILMS TO COME IN PRODUCTION
Feature-length documentary film by director Barbora Chalupová Marriage for All looks at a top-level public debate about ongoing society-wide change aimed at enacting marriages for same-sex couples. At the beginning of 2017, the Coalition for Marriage launched the campaign It’s only fair (www.jsmefer.cz), which strives to legalize marriage of gays and lesbians. This year, other activist associations have been formed, supported, for example, by some churches who are fighting against the extension of this law (for example www. podporamanzelstvi.cz).
DOCUMENTARY original title: Svatba bude? runtime: 80 min estimated release: November 2021 director: Barbora Chalupová produced by: Pavla Klimešová, Martina Štruncová – Silk Films (CZ)
The kids from a scout club often spend summer vacation at a place hidden in mountains of the romantic Královka region. For three weeks they live like savages – sleeping in a tepee, washing in a creek, cooking their meals on fire and having fun in the woods around. This time, the club goes to Kralovka for the last time. Due to a plan to build a transmitter here, the wilderness will disappear forever.
FICTION original title: Mazel a tajemství lesa runtime: 75 min estimated release: September 2020 director: Petr Oukropec produced by: Peter Badač – BFILM. cz (CZ)
Ema is a lively 25-year-old shop assistant living in a small town. Tomáš is a 30-year-old roofer living in a village nearby the capital. They spend a night together, with no expectations. However, it becomes the start of a relationship, love, living together. Ema decides to unburden herself and is ready to tell Tomáš about her checkered background. Tomáš doesn’t want to hear it as he wants to live here and now. A random episode unveils Ema’s past and starts off a series of incidents which turn their lives upside down.
FICTION original title: Chyby runtime: 90 min estimated release: October 2020 director: Jan Prušinovský cast: Pavla Gajdošíková, Jan Jankovský, Kryštof Rimský, Monika Načeva produced by: Ondřej Zima, Jan Prušinovský – OFFSIDE MEN (CZ) in co-production with: PubRes (SK), Czech Television (CZ)
Enter the fascinating 180-year history of a world-famous carpet factory, built up out of nothing like a dream by several generations of the Ginzkey family. The torn thread of the story, resolutely severed in 1994, is now being revived by the aging artist Rudolf Hůlka and his 3 children Jiří (5), Maria (8) and Anna (12). The kids are longing for a magical carpet and their father wants to restore the factory’s tradition and restart a family business called Hůlka – Ginzkey. A fairy tale about fulfilling a dream which, though once destroyed, was sincerely dreamt until the very end. Indeed, it is a dream which remains to be continued.
DOCUMENTARY, ANIMATION original title: Tepich runtime: 80 min estimated release: 2021 director: Andrea Culková produced by: Miroslav Novák, Viktoria Hozzová – Duracfilm (CZ) in co-production with: HBO Europe (CZ)
The sports drama tells the true story of Bohumil Hanč and Václav Vrbata, two pioneers of Czech skiing, who perished in the Krkonoše mountains during a dramatic race in 1913. With his wife expecting a child, Hanč had promised never to race again. Unfortunately, he gave in to pressure from his friends and took on one last race. The third protagonist in this story was German skier Emmerich Rath who, on the brink of collapse himself, dragged Hanč back to their camp. Sadly, Rath was unable to save Hanč. From the archives, we can reconstruct the race almost minute by minute. However, what exactly happened when Hanč and Vrbata met at the Harrach stones in the middle of the storm will forever remain a mystery.
FICTION original title: Poslední závod runtime: 90 min estimated release: February 2021 director: Tomáš Hodan cast: Kryštof Hádek, Marek Adamczyk, Oldřich Kaiser, Eva Josefíková produced by: Ondřej Beránek – Punk Film (CZ) in co-production with: D.N.A. Production (SK)
Marriage for All
Martin and the Forest Secret
Tepich – The Magic Carpet
The Last Race 40
FILMS TO COME in post-production IN post-production
Few true stories tread the thin line of good and evil as precariously as that of Jan Mikolášek, a 20th century Czech herbal healer whose great success masked the grimmest of secrets. Mikolášek won fame and fortune treating celebrities of the interwar, Nazi, and Communist eras with his uncanny knack for diagnosis. But his passion for healing welled up from the same source as a lust for cruelty, sadism, and an incapacity for love that only one person could ever quell – his assistant, František. As a show trial threatens to pry open these secrets and undo him, Jan’s dichotomies are put to a final test, with the fate of his life’s only love in the balance.
FICTION original title: Šarlatán runtime: 100 min estimated release: February 2020 director: Agnieszka Holland cast: Ivan Trojan, Josef Trojan produced by: Šárka Cimbalová – Marlene Film Productions (CZ) in co-production with: F&E Entertainment (IE), Madants (PL), Furia Film (SK), Czech Television (CZ), Barrandov Studio (CZ), RTVS (SK) international sales: Films Boutique
A social film experiment in which those who steal the innocence of children fall into their own traps. The feature-length documentary film opens the hitherto taboo topic of online child abuse. Statistics show that the problem is becoming bigger with each passing day. Unfortunately, awareness remains very low. Film directed by Barbora Chalupová & Vít Klusák.
DOCUMENTARY original title: V síti runtime: 90 min estimated release: November 2019 director: Vít Klusák, Barbora Chalupová produced by: Vít Klusák, Filip Remunda – Hypermarket Film (CZ) in co-production with: Czech Television (CZ), Radio and Television Slovakia (SK), Peter Kerekes Film (SK)
One day in the life of a perpetrator of domestic violence, Jaroslav K. (45) who is handsome and seemingly good-natured son, father and decent husband. In reality, Jaroslav K. is pathologically jealous of his wife Blanka and very much afraid one day she’ll leave him together with their three children. Jaroslav K. doesn’t hesitate to employ violence, deceit and terror against others, what ultimately leads to a family tragedy.
FICTION original title: Žáby bez jazyka runtime: 90 min estimated release: April 2020 director: Mira Fornay cast: Jaroslav Plesl, Regina Rázlová, Jan Doman, Petra Fornay produced by: Viktor Schwarcz – Cineart TV Prague (CZ), Mira Fornay – Mirafox (SK) in co-production with: Czech Television (CZ), Radio and Television Slovakia (SK)
A documentary essay, a requiem for the vanishing species of Homo sapiens. Through the stories of three protagonists, the film maps the situation before the turning point, the last period when we are still human - in the old, nostalgic sense of the word. What are the attributes that characterize us and what are the motivations of people who want to change them and take them to the next level?
DOCUMENTARY original title: FREM runtime: 80 min estimated release: November 2019 director: Viera Čákanyová produced by: Nina Numankadić - Hypermarket Film (CZ) in co-production with: Punkchart films (SK)
Rouzbeh arrives in Prague, away from his troubled family life in Tehran, and drowns himself instead in a research about his father’s past as a communist expatriate in Czechoslovakia. Upon visiting the flat where his father used to live, he meets a policeman investigating an accident. The resident of the flat has fallen from the window a day before. His last name is identical to Rouzbeh’s and he faces the fact of having a half-brother (Vladimir) that he never knew about. As he gets closer to the soul of Vladimir, he learns a shocking fact about his father’s past, in total contrast to the hero he always admired. This directs him to a course of events identical to the one which brought Vladimir to his fall from the window.
FICTION original title: Poloviny runtime: 100 min estimated release: March 2020 director: Ali Mosaffa cast: Ali Mosaffa, Zuzana Stivínová, Klára Melíšková, Zuzana Krónerová produced by: Ali Mosaffa – Ali Mosaffa productions (IR), Jordi Niubó – i/o post (CZ) in co-production with: Arina (SK)
Caught in the Net
Cook, F**k, Kill
FILMS TO COME IN POST-PRODUCTION
Kryštof, a youth approaching adulthood, is living as a new postulant before taking his vows in a community of monks somewhere in Czech Šumava mountains. Not only does he share with the brothers their world of contemplation, but also their role as a link in the long chain smuggling fugitives from the Communist regime across the border to Bavaria. Kryštof once wanted to flee from the world into a monastery, but instead he has to flee to save his very life and to understand it is his last chance to revolt against the brutal political power and save a loved person.
FICTION original title: Kryštof runtime: 110 min estimated release: March 2020 director: Zdeněk Jiráský cast: Mikuláš Bukovjan, Alexandra Borbély, David Uzsak, Stanislav Majer produced by: Olga Raitoralová – Fulfilm (CZ), Marian Urban – ALEF FILM&MEDIA (SK) in co-production with: Czech Television (CZ)
Tradition and modernity juxtapose in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar where white yurts dot the urban landscape, illustrating a spectacular societal change: the transition from nomadism to urbanism. Instead of overlooking endless steppe and blue sky, the nomad now lives on a grid. Tumurbaatar is a garbage truck driver in Ulaanbaatar striving for his daughter's education. Torn between life in the city and his home in the countryside, he struggles with his dreams and identity. He heads home for a visit, only to find the romantic image of home no longer fits with his current reality. Nonetheless, he clings fast to his dreams for his children to lead lives he cannot.
DOCUMENTARY original title: Nomád ve městě runtime: 90 min estimated release: November 2019 director: Anji Sauvé Clubb produced by: Alice Tabery – Cinepoint (CZ) in co-production with: Anji Sauvé Clubb (US), i/o post (CZ), Suzanna Sumkhuu (MN)
Something happens. Something the best of us would want to forget. And that’s exactly what Demir does when he wakes up like a blank canvas, with his entire past forgotten and a stranger with a pet pig sharing his new fancy display-style home. But he couldn’t care less about the blackout or the TVness of this reality – because the stranger is not strange at all – he is Andrew, a vision of Hollywood holiness in a man. And an unscrupulous auctioneer no less. By accepting the hand of friendship extended by Andrew, Demir does everything he can to be possessed by this man and ignore the violent clues of how he got there.
FICTION original title: Playdurizm runtime: 88 min estimated release: January 2020 director: Gem Deger cast: Gem Deger, Austin Chunn, Issy Stewart, Christopher Hugh James Adamson produced by: Martin Raiman, Steve Reverand – The LAB – a Media Production Company (CZ)
What would you do with your life, if you knew that you have a limited time ahead of you? Much shorter than an average life? Members of The Tap Tap – a music band made up of physically disabled – or rather crippled as they would call themselves – students of Jedlička Institute in Prague have a pretty clear idea. They want to live and enjoy every single minute of it. The Tap Tap orchestra shows how to confront difficulties and obstacles. And above all, how to have fun in your life. The members of the band are strong personalities with a direct attitude to life. They drink, smoke, curse, love, as long as they enjoy it. The film explores the spirit of survival and the wild lust for life against all the odds.
Documentary original title: Postiženi muzikou runtime: 80 min estimated release: October 2019 director: Radovan Síbrt produced by: Alžběta Karásková, Karel Poupě – PINK (CZ) in co-production with: HBO Europe (CZ)
I Want You If You Dare is a film about Jana, who suffers from cerebral palsy and her family. She is secretly in love with her friend, but as he has no deep feelings for her, Jana decides to discover the physical love with paid sex assistants and starts search for them on social networks. And to get a break from life with her alcoholic mother, she arranges a trial stay at a social welfare institution. Jana hopes to find a good alternative to living in the dysfunctional family and finally experience physical pleasure.
Documentary original title: Chci tě, jestli to dokážeš runtime: 84 min estimated release: February 2020 director: Dagmar Smržová produced by: Miloš Lochman – moloko film (CZ) in co-production with: Czech Television (CZ)
Nomad in the City
Two Roads (working title)
I Want You If You Dare 42
FILMS TO COME new RELEASES new releases Czech young au pair Mia starts work abroad for a well-off family in a lavish villa. Mia must look after their ten years old son and follows many strange rules of the household. She slowly begins to gradually and systematically disappear and abandon her morality and her relationships with child entrusted as a result of manipulation by a radical family community. Mia is suddenly able to expresses her love by violent tools.
FICTION original title: Tiché doteky runtime: 96 min national release: 3 October 2019 director: Michal Hogenauer cast: Eliška Křenková, Jacob Jutte, Monic Hendrickx, Roeland Fernhout produced by: Petr Oukropec, Pavel Strnad – Negativ (CZ) in co-production with: Circe Films (NL), Tasse Film (LV)
Joël Farges, a French filmmaker in his 60s is looking for a destiny of his favourite film from his childhood. It was a Prince Bayaya by Jiří Trnka. Trnka’s career peaked when the Cold War raged between the East and West blocks. His films were presented as an artistic counterweight to commercial production of Disney winning prizes in Cannes and Venice and became a valuable export article for the totalitarian regime. Trnka found that he had become a puppet himself of a political system. His disillusion led him to revolt. He left us a body of work celebrating a unique experience, the freedom associated with eternal youth.
DOCUMENTARY original title: Jiří Trnka – Nalezený přítel runtime: 80 min national release: 28 November 2019 director: Joël Farges produced by: Vladimír Lhoták – Hausboot (CZ) in co-production with: Kolam (FR), Czech Television (CZ)
This used to be a deep dark forest, now it's a housing estate of prefabricated apartment buildings. The home of the protagonist, a manual worker painting roofs, whom everyone just calls Vandam. He lives alone in a housing estate apartment in the suburbs of Prague, working out every day to stay in shape. The evenings are spent drinking beer with his chums at the local pub, the North Star. Vandam's chums from the North Star dub him their “national hero”. According to a local legend, Vandam took part in the demonstration on the National Street in Prague on 17 November, 1989, where – according to the legend – he set history into motion by dealing the first blow.
FICTION original title: Národní třída runtime: 91 min national release: 26 September 2019 director: Štěpán Altrichter cast: Hynek Čermák, Kateřina Janečková, Jan Cina, Václav Neužil produced by: Pavel Strnad, Petr Oukropec – Negativ (CZ) in co-production with: 42film (DE), Czech Television (CZ), ZDF – Das kleine Fernsehspiel (DE)
"Nobody fucks with the truth" says Vlastimil Reiner, retired and immobile 90-year-old army colonel, as his friend Tonda helps him with his personal hygiene. The two men are about to embark on the last mission of their lives: to find and kill the former communist prosecutor who used to send the elite of the nation to their deaths. His crimes remain unpunished, denied and forgotten. Now the two former resistance fighters who used to battle a totalitarian society must battle their old age, their loved ones, and an era they no longer understand.
FICTION original title: Staříci runtime: 85 min national release: 17 October 2019 directors: Martin Dušek, Ondřej Provazník cast: Jiří Schmitzer, Ladislav Mrkvička, Dušan Kaprálik, Milena Steinmasslová produced by: Jiří Konečný – endorfilm (CZ) in co-production with: sentimentalfilm (SK), Czech Television (CZ)
A great distance. Two thousand eight hundred fifty-two kilometers between Brno and Diveyevo, between the East and the West, between father and son. Far away, so close. At the end of summer holiday Vít and his son Grisha set off for a long journey to Russia. As soon as they get in the car, son puts his headset on and father immerses himself into memories. Still the two cannot escape one another. But there is one thing that can bring them close once again – a joint search. But what are they actually searching for?
DOCUMENTARY original title: Dálava runtime: 78 min national release: 14 November 2019 director: Martin Mareček produced by: Petr Oukropec – Negativ (CZ) in co-production with: HBO Europe (CZ)
A Certain Kind of Silence
Jiří Trnka – A Long Lost Friend
Over the Hills 43
FILMS TO COME new RELEASES
Mrs. Zahrádková has a plan to convince the other co-owners of the flats to finally save the house in which they live together and which is in disrepair. From the first moment, with astonishment, we see the co-owners’ inability to agree on anything. Mrs. Roubíčková vigilantly controls the proper course of the meeting. Mrs. Prochazková and her proclaimed business partner Mr. Novák are looking for ways to evaluate their property not only by renting an apartment to African students. Mr. Nitranský wants to get the attic to expand his flat and frustrated Mr. Kubát sabotages any decision...
FICTION original title: Vlastníci runtime: 96 min national release: 21 November 2019 director: Jiří Havelka cast: Tereza Voříšková, Vojtěch Kotek, Dagmar Havlová, Klára Melíšková produced by: Marek Jeníček – Cinemart (CZ) in co-production with: Czech Television (CZ), Cinemart SK (SK)
The picturesque story of the Czech-American family of Count František Antonín Kostka of Kostka who learns that his aristocratic forebearers have left him their ancient family seat – the Castle of Kostka. Frank thus leaves New York with his wife, Vivien, and daughter, Marie, to return to Bohemia and reassume his estate. Unfortunately, the castle is not in any condition to get rich off of – quite the opposite. Frank and his family thus face the task of saving their family tradition and learning to live with their fortune amid misfortune. Making it all the more difficult, they have “inherited” not only the castle but also its peculiar warden, hypochondriac repairman, and a cook with a fondness for homemade nut brandy.
FICTION original title: Poslední aristokratka runtime: 100 min national release: 24 October 2019 director: Jiří Vejdělek cast: Hynek Čermák, Tatiana Vilhelmová, Martin Pechlát, Pavel Liška produced by: Ondřej Zima, Silvie Michajlova – Evolution Films (CZ) in co-production with: PubRes (SK), Czech Television (CZ)
The film follows the journey of The Boy, entrusted by his persecuted parents to an elderly foster mother. The old woman soon dies and the Boy is on his own, wandering through the country-side, from village to farmhouse. As he struggles for survival, The Boy suffers through extraordinary brutality meted out by the ignorant, superstitious peasants and he witnesses the terrifying violence of the efficient, ruthless soldiers, both Russian and German. When the war ends, The Boy has been changed, forever.
FICTION original title: Nabarvené ptáče runtime: 169 min national release: 12 September 2019 director: Václav Marhoul cast: Petr Kotlár, Harvey Keitel, Udo Kier produced by: Václav Marhoul – Silver Screen (CZ) in co-production with: Czech Television (CZ), Eduard & Milada Kučera (CZ), Directory Films (UA), PubRes (SK), RTVS (SK) international sales: Celluloid Dreams (FR)
The world of the young theatre director Petr in a small Czech town crumbles after he decides to realize his dream: to adapt an overly ambitious play based on Euripides’ classic Fedra. He loses his two main actors during rehearsals and the municipality threatens to cut funding due to the play’s political content. Petr falls for young actress Karolina, who plays the lead. Tensions at his home grow; he is not much of a present husband and a father. Shortly before the premiere both women leave him. His wife has had enough and Karolina simply disappears. Petr attempts to save his masterpiece, but the play is a fiasco. Devastated, he tries to regain last pieces left of his life. But isn’t it far too late?
FICTION original title: Hra runtime: 93 min national release: 31 October 2019 director: Alejandro Fernández Almendras cast: Jiří Mádl, Elizaveta Maximová produced by: Veronika Finková – Film & Roll (CZ), Jirafa (CL), Arizona Productions (FR) in co-production with: Inti Briones (CL), Sleepwalker (CZ), Magiclab (CZ)
The famous American writer Philip Roth based his book partially on his authentic experiences in 1970’s when he used to visit Prague after the Soviet occupation in 1968 in order to help the banned Czechoslovak writers. Despite the political oppression, the social life, full of amusement and open relationships, was rampant in Prague. The greater the pressure of the regime was, the more people would resort to their free private intimate worlds. The story of The Prague Orgy depicts a journey of the famous American writer Nathan Zuckerman who arrives in Prague in 1976. He carries out a mission to save a unique collection of brilliant tales written in Yiddish by smuggling them across the border.
FICTION original title: Pražské orgie runtime: 90 min national release: 10 October 2019 director: Irena Pavlásková cast: Jonas Chernick, Ksenia Rappoport, Pavel Kříž produced by: Viktor Schwarcz – Prague Movie Company (CZ) in co-production with: Analog Vision (CZ), ARINA (SK)
The Last of the Noblewomen
The Painted Bird
The Prague Orgy 44
CZECH FILM / Fall 2019 Issued by Czech Film Fund / Czech Film Center Editors Markéta Šantrochová, Barbora Ligasová Copy editor Julia and Peter Sherwood Graphic design Cellula s.r.o. Cover photo The Painted Bird by Silver Screen Printed by Uniprint Print run 600 Not for sale Czech Film Center Národní 28 Prague 1, 110 00 Czech Republic firstname.lastname@example.org www.filmcenter.cz
Czech Film Center's official magazine presenting Czech Films and filmmakers.